New Zealand is joining a growing number of countries banning single-use plastic shopping bags.
“The ban should ensure less plastic ends up in rivers, streams, stormwater systems, and the ocean so seabirds, fish, turtles, and marine mammals are less vulnerable to being harmed by it,” Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said in a statement on Sunday.
The new regulations that come into force today apply to any type of plastic less than 70 microns in thickness, that’s new or un-used, has carry handles and is provided for carrying sold goods.
It also includes bags that are made from bio-based materials like starch and made of plastics that are degradable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable.
Mainstream supermarkets have already switched from single-use plastic shopping bags since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the legislation last August.
From today, businesses caught handing out single-use plastic bags could be fined up to $100,000 (US$67,000).
The Government will be conducting spot checks and the public are encouraged to report non-compliant businesses.
However, Government officials say they are focussed on education rather than prosecution at this stage.
More than 100 jurisdictions, including Belgium, France, Italy, China have already implemented an outright ban on single-use plastic bags, while others have introduced a levy or charge.