Council could cut down on plastic bag use

A bylaw to stop single-use plastic bags would be difficult to implement in Christchurch – but the city council could stop using them at its own facilities and events.

The city council’s Innovation and Sustainable Development Committee will look at options of how it can reduce single-use plastic bags in the city.

Megan Blakie

In July, Megan Blakie presented a petition with more than 1300 signatures to city councillors calling for city council, developers and business owners to ban plastic shopping bags, starting in the central city.

She gave city councillors their own cotton bags to use as alternatives.

Now, city council staff have prepared a report to be discussed by the committee on Wednesday with options of expanding its non-regulatory initiatives in relation to single-use plastic bags.

It said while it would be difficult for the city council to ban them, it could take a leadership role by reducing where it used them, such as in libraries and at its own events.

The report said the city council could expand its community education on the alternatives, such as cotton bags, and could advocate to central Government for a national change.

The committee, chaired by Cr Vicki Buck, would decide on Wednesday whether to recommend those options to city councillors for a final decision.

Environment Minister Nick Smith had the power to ban single-use plastic bags from sale or from disposal to landfill, the report said.

The city council did have the power to make a bylaw to control waste, it said.

But a plastic bag provided by a retailer to a customer did not meet the definition as waste because it was not being disposed by the retailer.

It only became waste when the customer disposed of it, making a bylaw difficult to create, the report said.

The petition now had more than 1700 signatures.

It said New Zealanders sent an estimated one billion plastic bags to landfill annually.