24 Oct 2016

Plastic bag charge could backfire, retailers say

6:03 pm on 24 October 2016

Proposed plans to make supermarkets charge for plastic bags could have a negative impact on the environment, a retailers' association says.

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Photo: 123rf

Green MP Denise Roche has submitted a Member's Bill which would compel supermarkets to charge 15c for each plastic bag customers use.

Any proceeds would go to charity.

A similar levy in the UK has reduced plastic bag consumption by 85 percent, and raised £30 billion for charity.

But Retail NZ public affairs manager Greg Harford said charges in Canberra caused a rise in the use of heavy plastic bags, which he said were worse for the environment.

"We've seen in other jurisdictions significant increases ... in the sale of heavier grade plastic rubbish bags, that can then be put into the rubbish.

"Yes, there are fewer shopping bags in the market but actually there other heavier plastics, which are probably worse in the environment, being used to collect people's rubbish."

Some retailers, including Pak'nSave and The Warehouse, already charge for plastic bags.

A spokesperson for the Countdown supermarket chain said it would not oppose compulsory charges on plastic bags, but the charge would have to be applied across the board.

While the company would not initiate such a policy independently, it also would not object if one was applied to all supermarkets, the spokesperson said.

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