Monday, July 01, 2019

Single-use plastic bags are now banned

A whole bunch of new laws came into effect today, not the least of which is a ban on single-use plastic bags. The bags were a logical first step because they’re so easy to replace—and such a problem. The bags are easily carried by the wind to into rivers, lakes and the sea, endangering wildlife. They’re also not needed by consumers. It’s a good start.

On the other hand, single-use plastic bags are just one part of the solution. In addition to other plastics we need to phase out, we need to increase recycling of the plastics we can’t easily replace, but that means that we also need to “close the loop”, to make more stuff out of recycled plastics Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said: “At the start of plastic-free July, the plastic shopping bag ban is one step to tackling New Zealand’s waste issues. We also need to recharge our materials recovery and recycling systems and shift to a circular economy.”

One thing that will help with that is that collection of soft-plastics for recycling has resumed. Initially, they’re only being collected at 37 locations around Auckland, the number deliberately limited so that plastics won’t pile up.

One company starting to make a difference is called Future Post, and it makes fenceposts out of recycled plastics, including soft-plastic packaging. As a farming nation, New Zealand needs a lot of fenceposts, and this potentially provides a much better solution. The company points out that since the posts are plastic, they don’t absorb moisture or water, and that means no splitting, cracking or rotting. They’re also impervious to frosts, insects and fungi, all of which shortens the life of wooden fenceposts. In addition to those benefits, another important to farmers is that they’re non-conductive, which means that they don’t need insulators required when using electric fences. The company will also take returned posts to be recycled again.

The government and the packing industry are committed to encouraging more plastics recycling here in New Zealand, especially now that various countries have stopped taking plastics. There are apparently several projects that are at least in trials, and that could mean more products could become available.

But we still need to reduce the amount of plastic use. Back in April I talked about using mesh bags to buy loose produce, rather than the plastic bags in store. Some stores offer paper bags as an alternative, but some experts argue they’re as unsustainable as plastic bags. The larger point, though, is that if we each take responsibility for what we do, such as using reusable bags and containers wherever possible, we can reduce the need for any single-use packaging.

Still, it’s probably expecting too much to think that all plastics can be eliminated. In that post last April, I mentioned a few things that come in plastic that will take work to eliminate, however, there’s no reason that packaging can’t be made from recycled plastic, and, in fact, increasingly it is. If we then recycle them again, we’ll start to keep the loop closed and help being to solve the problems we’ve created.

But, for now, at least New Zealand made an important step today. We have to start somewhere.


"Countdown will offer paper bags as ban on plastic takes hold"Stuff

The is a company video below is from Future Post, and shows what the posts are made from, and also how their posts are ultimately used. It’s that last part that led me to share it: Some readers might like to see real some New Zealand farm work being done.


rogerogreen said...

I've been bringing canvas bags a LOT, or just carrying a small # of items in my backpack. But I have to be QUICK to refuse a bag, as in as I'm giving them money or sliding my credit card. .

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Surprising in some ways (in other ways, not…) that at least some places, like where you are, aren't a bit more, um evolved on the plastic bag thing. Before grocery stores started taking away plastic bags late last year, they'd usually, though not always, as if I wanted a bag for just a thing or two. Unless I was headed to immediately to another store, I'd decline.

There were some times when I got only a few things and the clerk would reflexively start to put them in a bag, so I got used to saying "I don't need a bag" before they had a chance to put the stuff in one. Nowadays, of course, I don't need to do that anymore. I prefer it the way things are now.