Single-use plastic shopping bags are banned in New Zealand from today. File photo / Reuters
New Zealand officially banned single-use plastic shopping bags on Monday, introducing hefty fines for businesses that continue to provide them.
Plastic pollution has become a growing global concern, with a million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals injured or killed every year by becoming entangled in packaging or ingesting it through the food chain.
Companies that break New Zealand’s ban will face heavy penalties, including fines of up to NZ$100,000 ($67,000).
“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it,” Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said.
“Ending the use of single-use plastic shopping bags helps do that.”
Under the new rules, thin plastic single-use shopping bags can no longer be supplied — but the law allows reusable carriers to continue being provided.
The legislation — which was announced in August last year and came into force on Monday — will have little practical effect, as New Zealand’s major supermarkets have already voluntarily banned the bags.
However, Sage said it was putting the issue of recycling on the agenda.
“(The ban) doesn’t go far enough, but what is really great is it’s started the conversation,” she told Radio New Zealand.
“People are now talking about single-use plastics and how we can phase them out.”
More than 80 countries have already introduced similar bans, according to the UN Environment Programme.
Bahrain will start phasing out the use of plastic products in July, Bahrain News Agency, BNA, reported on Wednesday. A Ministerial order with respect to the technical regulations
New Zealand does not recognise the legitimacy of the military-led government and called on the military to immediately release all detained political leaders and restore civilian rule, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a separate statement.
The unprecedented policy plans to curtail plastic consumption habits among the common public and redirect them to sustainable materials that would considerably reduce plastic waste in the oceans.
The country of 5 million people now has nine active cases after having none at all earlier this month. Health officials said Monday that all those cases involve people who have recently arrived and are in quarantine, and there’s no evidence of community transmission.
The media said that the lioness was fleeing from its owner in a street in Mosul, running amok in broad daylight among the vehicles.
Since the conflict began on Friday, 31 Palestinians — including six children — have been killed, while 275 people have been wounded, said health authorities.
Speaking during a visit to Bangladesh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country's actions were "legitimate, reasonable, in accordance with the law," and aimed at protecting China's "sacred sovereignty."