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October 1, 2018 | by  | in Politics | [ssba]

The Party Line

Is the plastic bag ban simply a tokenistic gesture? Why or why not?


“The plastic bag ban is a tokenistic policy that ultimately does more harm than good. The use of plastic bags is proven to contribute less CO2 emissions over time than the production of reusable bags. Meaning that the Government has ignored their own mandate of reducing carbon emissions. While the Young Nats accept that the banning of these bag will reduce marine pollution, in the words of Minister Sage they represent only a “small subset of all sources of marine plastics”. There are plenty of policy options proposed by MfE that would have worked to reduce marine pollution while keeping New Zealand’s emissions low. The Young Nats hope that in the future the Government will properly consider all of the possible policy options before making ideological decisions that ultimately do more harm than good to New Zealanders. However between this and the oil and gas ban we’re not confident this will ever happen.”

-Graeme Woods

ACT on Campus

“Yes it is a tokenistic gesture. While it’s a nice idea in theory it may be doing more harm than good. Banning the bags can lead to worse economic outcomes such as jobs lost and Kiwis having to buy more expensive bags. That aside, while the principal of the bag ban is good, it has the potential for further negative environmental impacts as producing thicker plastic bags and reusable bags are more environmentally damaging to make and dispose of than single use bags. Plastic bags only damage the environment because of the incorrect way people use/dispose of them and only make up 0.01% of landfill waste.
We should be looking at innovative solutions to help the environment and economy, such as bio-degradable bags and the proper recycling methods in place rather than just stepping in with a ban for virtue-signalling purposes. The government needs to start taking some real action and look for smarter ways to deal with the plastic problem rather than tokenistic gestures.”

– James Allan

Greens at Vic

“It is not tokenistic at all. While plastic waste is a much bigger problem than just plastic bags, we have to start reducing our reliance on plastics somewhere.

Aotearoa collectively uses over a billion plastic bags every year. When plastic bags enter our oceans and break down, fish eat them and the plastic enters our food chain. I’d enjoy my tuna sushi a lot more if I knew there wasn’t any plastic in it! All it requires is a simple change of our habits. I just grab my school bag before I do my shopping, and I have reusable bags right by the door so I can grab them if I’m doing a bigger trip. A minor change to our routines like this really does have a great impact on the environment. If we got rid of plastic bags all together, it would have the same impact on emissions as removing 3000 cars from our roads. This is only just the beginning.”

– Mark Metcalfe


“Depends on who you ask! If you’re the National Party, maybe you’d think it is virtue signalling commie bullshit. But if you’re a sea turtle, you probably would want to do whatever you could to avoid swallowing and choking on a plastic bag thinking that it’s a jellyfish! The phasing-out of plastic bags is only part of the government’s wider agenda with respect to climate change and conservation. No one is saying plastic bag pollution is the only waste management issue we are facing – but you have to start somewhere.
In recent years there has been growing public pressure via letters and petitions urging consecutive governments to phase-out plastic bags. As a result of this activism, the plastic bag phase-out is the first step the government has made towards changing NZ’s attitude towards and consumption of harmful plastics.”


About the Author ()

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