Blame the companies, not the litterers!


When National list MP and former Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor called for more than doubling the fine for littering, I cheered long and loud. On a recent Town Belt walk I picked up a plastic bag carelessly strewn on the track and during the next twenty minutes I was able to fill it to brimming with . The worst place was a concrete netball court that has been converted to a skateboard park. This is a wonderful community facility that has enormous social and financial benefits to the community, so why are there no rubbish bins there?

As much as I support Naylor’s abhorrence of litter, is punishing litterers more harshly, many of whom are probably young and not very wealthy, really an effective solution?

Works pretty well in Singapore!

I look forward to Naylor introducing legislation that taxes littering plastic bottle manufacturers and incentivises breweries that bring back bottle refund systems.    

The other major contents of my litter bag were fast food packets. Buy a hamburger and ask for it without packaging and you’ll get a very strange look. Paper and cardboard take years to break down in landfills. Yet we have the technology to create packaging that can be eaten or biodegrades almost immediately. I look forward to Naylor’s plan to hit fast food manufacturers with a paper and cardboard littering surcharge – let’s call it Jono’s McTax – while offering generous tax incentives to companies using biodegradable packaging.

Supermarkets provide you with plastic bags so you can carry your groceries home or to your car. Not to litter with them.

McDonalds provides you with packaging for your burger so you can take it away, not to litter with it.

Blaming them for litter is like blaming a theatre ccompany for litter if someone throws away their entry ticket after a show.

Sadly, I suspect Naylor will not adopt many of my suggestions. After all, it is supermarket, fast food and alcohol interests who litter the National Party with campaign funds.

Luckily we have a transparent electoral donation regime so we can see if this is true. It is not. I’ve checked the donation returns for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and there is not a single party donation to National from a supermarket, fast food or alcohol company.

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