From 1 July 2019, the Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018 comes into force, meaning retailers can no longer sell or provide single-use plastic shopping bags to customers for carrying or distributing their sold goods.

This ban affects all retailers, as the regulations apply to all businesses in New Zealand who sell goods. This includes sales directly to consumers, business-to-business transactions and online sales. The regulations apply to small produce markets and retail stores through to large department stores and supermarkets. They also apply to both profit and not-for-profit organisations.

The regulations apply to plastic shopping bags which meet all of the following criteria:

• made of any type of plastic less than 70 microns in thickness. This includes plastics made from bio-based materials such as starch and plastics designed to be degradable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable.
• with carry handles
• new or unused.

Which bags are not covered by the ban?

• Bags without handles including lightweight barrier bags (eg, bags without handles used for containing meat and/or produce)
• Bin liners/rubbish bags
• Bags for pet waste or nappies
• Bags that are an essential part of a product’s packaging (eg, bread bags and pouches for cooked chicken)
• Bags that don’t contain plastic including bio-sourced plastics (eg, cotton, jute, hemp, paper and flax)
• Long-life, multi-use bags made from synthetic fabric (eg, nylon and polyester) between 45 and 70 microns in thickness.

What can you do to help?

Make sure you are prepared when you visit your favourite local business by taking along your own reusable bag in case they don’t have other options available.

Need to know more?

Our zero waste coordinator for the three Wairarapa councils has been working hard to visit all the businesses ahead of the ban taking effect. However, if you are a business needing more information, you can find all you need to know here.