No more single-use plastic bags in major Kiwi supermarkets is a huge win for our country.

Supermarkets were required to stop supplying single-use bags from July 1 2019, but implemented the change six months early when the full ban came into effect before the New Year.

Research suggests Kiwis were taking home somewhere in the realm of 700 million supermarket plastic bags every year, approximately half of these coming from supermarkets. So it’s no small feat that supermarket chains Countdown, Pak’n Save, Four Square and New World have led the way in banning them altogether.

It’s not news to anyone that plastic bags take a long time to break down. Most of the conventional plastic bags used in New Zealand will take over 100 years to break down into nothing. Before this, they can be blown into the sea – harming sealife, littering beaches and even ending up in our food chain. If not out at sea or on our shorelines, plastic bags will likely be sent to landfill, where they may absorb other harmful toxins and leach into surrounding soil and waterways. Whatever happens after their average 12 minute life, plastic bags have no place in our environment.

Unfortunately, all single-use plastics already in circulation are now going straight to landfill. This is due to the significant backlog in recycling as a result of overseas processing shutting down, as well as the fact that Kiwis have been collecting more plastic than can be recycled in New Zealand.

While the single-use plastic ban in supermarkets is a great step in the right direction, it’s still a small step and as a nation we have a long way to go to making some serious difference! We as consumers need to continue voting with our purchases – choosing against single-use plastics wherever possible… And it is ALWAYS possible.

For inspiration to go plastic-free in 2019, check out our list of inspiring reads with practical tips & tricks.