Draconian new powers outlawing single-use plastic bags come into force in New Zealand on Monday with retailers facing a fine of up to £52,000 (NZ$100,000) if they hand them to customers.
The ban encompasses not only lightweight plastic bags, but also thicker versions handed out by department stores and even “environmentally friendly” biodegradable and compostable options. However, it will be left to shoppers themselves to police the law and report offenders.
Underpinning the ban is the determination of the government in Wellington to cut the amount of plastic ending up in rivers and oceans in order to minimise the threat faced by vulnerable seabirds, fish and other marine mammals.
Plastic bags are now outlawed in more than 40 countries.