On Thu, 10 Aug 2017 at 13:29, James Ayling<James.Ayling@parliament.govt. nz> wrote:Good afternoon Sarah,Please find attached a response to your correspondence of 26 June 2017 from Hon Scott Simpson, Associate Minister for the Environment.Kind regards,James.James Ayling | Private Secretary (Associate Environment)Office of the HonScott Simpson MP
From: James Ayling
Sent: Tuesday, 27 June 2017 2:34 p.m.
Subject: RE: Radio NZ 1 June Nine to Noon show
Good afternoon Sarah,
On behalf of Hon Scott Simpson, Associate Minister for the Environment, thank you for your correspondence of 26 June 2017 regarding plastic bags.
Your email has been placed before the Minister and you may expect a reply in due course.
James Ayling | Private Secretary (Associate Environment)
Office of the HonScott Simpson MP
Minister of Statistics | Associate Minister for the Environment | Associate Minister of Immigration | MP for Coromandel
Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
In reply to Sarah’s letter below:
From: Sarah Allen
Sent: Monday, 26 June 2017 6:32 PM
To: S Simpson (MIN) <S.Simpson@ministers.govt.nz>
Subject: Radio NZ 1 June Nine to Noon show
I am writing after listening to Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme on 1 June 2017, when you, Dave Cull and Sandra Murray spoke about single-use plastic bag waste and what to do about it.
I note that Dave Cull reported that Local Government NZ almost unanimously support a levy on plastic bags. Local councils are no doubt very aware of the extent of the problem, as it is they who must deal with excessive plastic bag waste. As at 25 June, twenty-eight of the country’s 67 mayors have so far signed an open letter calling on the government to introduce a compulsory levy on plastic bags. Sandra Murray also made some interesting points in that producers of the bags ought to bear more responsibility for the end-of-life impacts of their products.
I’m sure everyone has heard the maxim, “reduce, reuse, recycle”. As with so many things in life, prevention is better than cure. Reducing the number of single-use plastic bags that enter the waste stream will always be much more effective than trying to deal with them once they have been discarded. This is particularly so with plastics that do not readily break down in the environment and will be with us for at least 20 and up to 1,000 years. Tragically, single-use plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes, and we do not actually know how long they will take to break down, although we can be reasonably certain the period will be measured in generations, not in years. In the light of this, we must ensure fewer single-use plastic bags enter our waste stream.
While the Soft Plastics Recycling Project is a promising part of the solution, it cannot be the whole solution. Published figures state that some 25 million plastic bags were recycled last year. This represents less than 2% of NZ’s consumption of single-use plastic bags, which is estimated at 1.6 billion per annum. In addition, this recycling was reportedly only achieved at the significant cost of $18,000 per ton. It is pleasing to note that the Project expects to fulfil its three year goal by 2018 of obtaining full industry funding. This does indicate some responsibility being taken by the organisations who distribute the bags.
Your stated view on Radio NZ was that you do not favour “heavy-handed regulation” and believe New Zealanders like to make choices themselves. Unfortunately, 1.6 billion disposable plastic bags per annum suggests that New Zealanders aren’t necessarily choosing to reduce their plastic bag use. In a country with such a small population, this is quite an astonishing figure. A levy on single-use plastics still gives people a choice – whether to purchase the bag or not. A levy is a reminder to people to consider whether they need the bag or not, and an encouragement to reduce unnecessary consumption. If people still want the bags to line their rubbish bins or pick up dog waste, then bags are available. If people still need the bags to pack their groceries, they can purchase them. What a levy will help eliminate is wastage, for example the situation where a bag is taken for a couple of items that can easily be carried by hand or put in a handbag or backpack.
A levy in a way is in the nature of a Pigovian tax, although borne by the consumer rather than the producer. Single-use plastics have negative consequences that certainly aren’t priced into their cost when they are handed out for free. At the moment local councils (and therefore all ratepayers) and the environment are bearing those consequences. Imposing a levy is an effective way of achieving efficiency in the market by finding a balance between social (or environmental) cost and consumption. Findings from the UK show that a levy is very effective in reducing consumption – Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England saw reductions of an estimated 76%, 71%, 80% and 85% respectively after introducing a levy.
You indicated that you want to research initiatives overseas and look at introducing those that are most effective in New Zealand. If you can find an initiative that reduces plastic bag consumption by 70% or more whilst raising funds that could be put towards further waste minimisation and management initiatives, I’m sure it would gain wide support. So far, no such alternative is evident.
You also said that you are having discussions with industry and looking at achieve results on a voluntary basis. You will no doubt recall the lack of success of voluntary initiatives back in 2009 when New World removed a 5c charge for plastic bags due to customer complaints and competitive pressure. This year, representatives of major supermarkets have been quoted in the press saying any charge would have to be industry-wide. A levy would remove competitive issues and place all retailers on a level footing, whilst encouraging behaviour change and considered decision-making.
On Radio NZ, you stated that you liked the “nice circular sort of symmetry” of soft plastic recycling being partly funded by the Waste Minimisation Fund, which is in turn funded by fees for leaving waste at landfills. The possibility of soft plastic recycling being funded by fees for usage of a significant class of soft plastics, the single-use shopping bag, strikes me as more directly symmetrical and satisfying. The Waste Minimisation Fund already exists as a mechanism into which levies collected could be directed.
I do not suggest that a levy on single-use plastic is the only solution to our waste problems, only that it should be one part of our larger efforts to manage all waste. Please give the introduction of a levy serious consideration, rather than dismissing the idea as heavy-handed regulation.
We’ll screen a film in June to raise awareness, talk about it and invite you to sign up for the challenge too!
In July, we’ll organise a workshop to make our own honey wraps. With organic wax, we create reusable wraps for lunches and to cover food – no more cling film!
And then, early August, we’ll “wrap-up” with a Dilemma Bag Pot Luck, when we’ll share our experience and celebrate our efforts.
Watch this space for details and follow us on Facebook !
It’s been daunting at times, but thanks to everyone’s awesome effort, we managed to pull through after 6 sewing drives.
120 locally made, unique, in outstanding quality, reusable shopping bags!
They were sold way before they were made! And after several distribution events, every pledge was fulfilled. And we managed to raise $6000! With this money, we’ll buy commercially made bags with our logo to continue our campaign.
Sewers and non-sewers join forces to defeat the plastic bag invasion. Help us to create fabulous Wanaka reusable bags to be sold on PledgeMe.
We need you! Bring your trusty sewing machine (if you have one), pins, thread, sharp scissors and something yummy to share. Pre-cut kits & instructions available for home-sewers.
We have held four amazing sewing drives – thanks to all the awesome people that showed up to help us make bags and home sewing kits.
One Last Drive for Sewers!
Sat 8th October 9:30am-12:30pm Mt Aspiring College, Rm 23 and 24
This last drive is for sewers as we have already prepped all the bits and pieces we need to make our bags.
To volunteer as a home-sewer, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can’t make it to a ‘WANAKA BAG’ Sewing Drive today there’s still a way you can help. Put your sewing skills to good use help by making a bag or two with our pre-cut kits.
Pre-cut bag kits can be picked up from Gina at Wanaka Wastebusters, Cnr Ballantyne and Riverbank Roads, open 9am-5pm, 7 days.
If you already have a kit and need a little more help drop us a line and we’ll make sure you get the support you need.
Below are a bunch of photos which show you all the various elements of the design.
On the 1st of September we launched our Pledgeme campaign to raise funds for the ongoing commercial production of cotton Wanaka bags to provide an affordable alternative to plastic bags. Our goal was to raise $5,500 and we have SMASHED our target cracking the $6,000 mark a few days ago.
Our locally-made, Limited Edition ‘Wanaka Bags’ sold like hot cakes but we still have some great rewards available and home sewers can purchase a pre-cut pack to make their very own Wanaka Bag.
We are also offering two products which offer an alternative to disposable containers:
- The Plastic Bag Free Wanaka Karma Cup, a barista style glass coffee cup (to reduce our contribution to the one million take-away disposable cups that go into landfill each minute).
- Stainless steel Eco Safe Plastic Bag Free Wanaka reusable drink bottles.
With the funds we have raised we will order 1,000 commercially made ‘Wanaka Bags’ to be sold in shops in Wanaka, offering an affordable alternative to disposable plastic bags.
Our fantastic rewards include a glass barista style coffee cup for a $25 pledge, the limited edition Wanaka bag and stainless steel eco bottle, both for $20 pledge. Pledge more and get more for your bucks!
Sewers and non-sewers join forces to defeat the plastic bag invasion. Help us to create fabulous Wanaka reusable bags to be sold on Pledge Me.
We need you! Bring your trusty sewing machine (if you have one), pins, thread, sharp scissors and something yummy to share. Patterns and fabric available for home sewers.
Sat 3rd September, 1pm-4pm
Thu 8th September, 6pm-9pm
Adam and Eve Bakery backroom, 54 Reece Crescent
Email email@example.com to register or find out more.