NZ lags behind in plastic bag use – Helen Clark, Greenpeace

The AM Show 27/02/2018

A petition to ban plastic bags has received over 65,000 signatures, puting further pressure on the Government to make a call on the issue. 

The Greenpeace-driven petition, dubbed ‘Ban the Bag’, will be presented to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage on Tuesday.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says if the country wants to keep its "clean, green reputation" it had better move forward with a plastic bag ban.

Ms Clark and Greenpeace spokesman Phil Vine joined The AM Show to discuss the move for a total bag ban in New Zealand.

Ms Clark said the Government will need to act in some way if the ban is to go forward.

"For our country's reputation of being clean and green we better put some substance around it."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show the Government is finalising a strategy to manage the issue.

"It's one of the things I would say I probably get the most correspondence from, the most letters from children,” she said. “They write to me about straws that affect turtles and bags affecting sealife.”

"What we have at the moment is inconsistency, so that's one of the things that we need to work on.

"For instance, individual supermarket chains who are doing a fantastic job in deciding they're not going to use them or that they'll charge for them.

"But we don't have a uniform approach.”

Greenpeace spokesman Phil Vine told the show even unassuming countries like Rwanda and China have imposed a ban.

New Zealand is behind the rest of the world in its plastic bag use, explained Mr Vine.

"[Jacinda Ardern] just needs to move on this because the weight of public opinion... believes we have too much plastic in their lives."

Mr Vine said our plastic use is out of habit and urges New Zealanders to "realise the cost every time we get one".

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.