The Greens plastic bag tax

The have said:

The Green Party’s Waste Minimisation (Single-use Plastic Bag) Amendment Bill, launched this morning, will reduce plastic bag waste, and support organisations cleaning up our environment.

A 15 cent charge will be placed on single-use at check-out, and proceeds raised will go back towards support for non-profit organisations doing waste minimisation projects or education.

“New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags a year despite the growing numbers of people who refuse them at the check-out,” said Green Party waste spokesperson Denise Roche.

So that is an extra $240 million in tax per year on households. Would be a better proposition if they promised to reduce other taxes to compensate, but there is no end to how high they want the tax burden to grow.

“Consumers paying a small charge on single-use plastic bags has been very effective in the UK, where it has reduced plastic bag usage by 85 percent since it was introduced late last year, and raised nearly £30 million for charity.”

A tax will reduce the number of plastic bags, but they often forget about the impact of substitution. I previously blogged:

  • Plastic bags have a minor impact on greenhouse gas emissions compared to a cotton bag. Cotton bags have 131 times the greenhouse gas emissions
  • Only an estimated 0.5% of domestic waste are plastic bags
  • Most plastic bags are not single use but 90% get re-used for household purposes such as refuse holding
  • Plastic bags can actually be recycled – just very few people know this
  • A ban or tax on light plastic bags leads to more people buying heavier bags such as trash can liners which have a bigger environmental impact
  • Reusable bags tend to have a higher level of bacteria in them causing illness and even death in extreme cases

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