After banning single-use shopping bags, New Zealand moved to outlaw single-use produce bags at supermarkets as the initiative was set in motion on 1 July 2023. Customers visiting grocery stores are now expected to bring their own reusable bags for fruits and vegetables.
The ban will erase 150 million plastic produce bags from circulation each year helping eradicate an array of issues such as clogging sewers, littering landscapes and risking wildlife.
In 2019, New Zealand banned stores from providing single-use plastic bags and the current measure pushes the waste-reducing efforts a notch higher by banning recyclable, biodegradable or plant-based plastic. Customers are encouraged to use mesh, paper or canvas bags instead.
Additionally, with the prohibition of plastic produce bags, New Zealand has also barred the manufacture, sale and distribution of single-use plates, bowls and cutlery. The only exception is single-use plastic straws for people with disabilities or health needs.
Globally, an increasing number of countries are discouraging the use of single-use plastic bags, either through outright bans or applying fees to use them. Through the United Nations Environment Assembly, 175 nations have started planting initiatives through the end of 2024 to devise an international plan to render obsolete plastic pollution.