Auckland Council Almost There on Plastic Bags!

On Wednesday Steph Borelle presented her “mayor Len Brown – Ban Plastic Bags in Auckland” petition to the Environment and Heritage Subcommittee of Auckland Council.

She spoke passionately about the effect single use plastic bags have on the marine environment of the Hauraki gulf, the area on which she is doing her PhD on offshore ecology, and the gulf in which our beautiful island sits! She spoke of flotillas of plastic waste being visible from the air, and briefly on their effect on marine mammals and birds.

She reminded us that before 1977 we all managed to go to the shops, get everything we needed, bring it home and store it before the ubiquitous plastic bag took over everything!

Step also pointed out to council that in 2009 The United Nations Environmental Program released a report on the state of the oceans and its conclusion “Marine litter is symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources” The UNEP report says that:

There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them (single use plastic bags) anywhere anymore.

There are countless jurisdictions around the world, national regional and municipal which have banned plastic bags or placed a charge on their distribution to reduce and eliminate their use. First to developing world, where legislatures and governing bodies have had the courage, usage usually drop by a magnitude of 95%. That’s whopping.

No where in New Zealand is on the list of plastic bag free jurisdictions. Shocking. We are an island nation, which sells itself to the world as clean Green and beautiful. Are we prepared to do what it takes to make that more true?

Steph’s petition was well received, but yet the officers and Councillors drafted a resolution to return with proposals to ‘minimise’ plastic bag use. We had all hoped for something stronger. Steph was circumspect and accepted that this was a step, but it’s clear that Auckland Council is going to need more help from us, the community to get it over the line.

Deputy Mayor and all round awesome person Penny Hulse said “we are pushing against a partially open door here” and she’s right. People know know that there is zero justification for that single use plastic bag product.

Let’s as a community push that door open and empower our politicians to make the changes we know work.

Stay tuned for more on the Auckland plastic bag campaign!


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