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No ban on plastic bags: Dr Smith

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/01/2017

New Zealand will not move to ban plastic bags, despite this week announcing a proposal to prohibit plastic microbeads, the environment minister says.

Microbeads are contained within a wide range of products, such as shampoos, face cleansers, shaving cream and sunscreens.

On Monday, Dr Nick Smith announced a proposal to ban the sale and manufacture of products containing them, but ruled out taking a similar step with plastic bags.

He said unlike microbeads, plastic bags could be recycled and disposed of responsibly.

"It is true that in many developing countries, huge volumes of plastic bags end up in the storm water system, end up in the marine environment," he said.

"(But) there is not the evidence in New Zealand that a substantive portion of the plastic bags that we use in shopping and other uses end up in the marine environment,"."

"So it is in that area of microbeads that the government sees as a priority."

Dr Smith said the government was currently rolling out a national recycling scheme for plastic bags, which was "having a high level of pick-up".

"(We) would only reconsider our position around (banning) those shopping plastic bags in the event that scheme was unsuccessful," he said.

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