As the Government progresses with its ban of single-use plastic bags, the Waiheke Local Board aims to step up the war on waste and has called for the laws to extend to other single-use plastics as well. In 2016, Waiheke’s Countdown became New Zealand’s first supermarket to charge extra for the use of the bags, in agreement with Progressive Foods and the board.

“That came after resident concerns, particularly from the Bring Your Own Bag collective which has been making reusable bags for shoppers for years,” said Cath Handley, chair of the Waiheke Local Board.

Recently, following a two-month trial the supermarket also stopped using biodegradable plastic bags.

“Waiheke is a unique island environment within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, and we all know how damaging plastic in the ocean can be. We have a proud tradition of engaging locals in waste minimisation, including the board-supported Waiheke Resources Trust, which has been educating the community for more than 20 years,” said Handley.

“The board says the phase-out should cover plastic bags of all thicknesses because otherwise, producers will make bags just above the threshold. Most importantly, a phase-out of all plastic bags will help to reduce plastic waste. It should cover all retailers to ensure the phase-out is managed consistently across the retail sector.”

The board also calls for a more robust definition of the term reusable regarding plastics, such as meaning the product is composed of materials that allow for around 120 uses before having to be replaced.

“We also say the phase-out should cover other types of plastic products that cause environmental damage, such as drinking straws, single-use plates and cutlery, six-pack can rings and dog-dropping bags. We should introduce refunds on alternative drink containers because it would have an immediate impact on reducing litter in our streets, parks and waterways.”