A woman holding two reusable produce bags with fruit in them.

Plastic ban to remove 150 million produce bags each year

In just three months, Aotearoa New Zealand will enter stage two of the Government’s single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic phase out. 

On 1 July 2023:

  • The manufacture, sale or distribution of single-use plastic produce bags, plates, bowls, and cutlery will be banned.
  • Single-use plastic straws will be restricted. Some businesses and organisations will still be able to provide them to disabled people and those with health needs.
  • A transition to compostable plastic produce labels by 2025 will begin.

James Palmer, Chief Executive at the Ministry for the Environment said plastic is one of our greatest environmental challenges.

“Plastic is an ever-present part of our lives. But it is often not disposed of correctly and ends up in the environment, breaking down into micro plastic pollution. This is a growing problem in our freshwater and marine environments.”

James Palmer said New Zealand has been on an important journey to reduce plastic waste in our environment, which began with the 2019 single-use plastic bag ban.

“In just three months, the Government will be taking that next step towards removing problematic plastics from our environment. The ban on single-use plastic produce bags for example will remove 150 million plastic produce bags from circulation each year. That’s 17,000 plastic bags, every hour.”

Shaun Lewis, Director Waste Stream Policy at the Ministry for the Environment said: “The plastic products the Government is phasing out are often used only once before becoming waste or litter. They are challenging to recycle, impact the effectiveness of our recycling system and endanger our marine life.”

The Government, in June 2021, announced the phase-out of single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic from the environment in three tranches, with the first in October last year, the second in July 2023, and the more challenging phase-outs by July 2025.

Single-use plastic straws will only be available for disabled people and those with health needs. No proof of disability or health condition will be needed to be shown.

Shaun Lewis added; “Alternatives exist. Using things like reusable produce bags or ceramic plates for example, are steps we can all take to cut down the amount of plastic we use in our lives.

With the next changes approaching it is important that New Zealanders understand what they mean for them, from their weekly shopping habits to running their business. They can do this by visiting Single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic bans.