When I worked In Tasmania four years ago, the State Government supported local government in banning plastic bags.
The ban was a phase-in and all bags were replaced with environmentally friendly biodegradable bags. As a consumer, you didn’t notice the difference and the cost was minimal. A few cents a week on the shopping bill. The environmental impact is significant – perhaps we can lead the way here?
Traveling from Tasmania to my next role in Tonga, what a shocking contrast it was. Non-degradable bags and plastic packaging littering the island paradise. It was sad to see plastic rubbish everywhere, on the land and on every beach and on every one of the dozens of small islands I regularly visited. The plastics industry and retailers here can help overcome the litter problem just as we saw happen in Tassie. It would be great if Hawkes Bay became the leader in zero waste in NZ.
There are skeptics who believe that Biodegradable plastic bags and packaging aren’t the solution to replacing non-degradable plastic shopping bags. Its claimed they do not decompose in properly managed landfills and that they support the throwaway mind-set and the use of landfills. While the Aussies don’t get much right in terms of environmental protection, most councils I worked with there certainly knew how to manage waste with excellent fully-funded recycling plants instead of constant land fill dumping.
The HDC are in a profitable position with the well managed landfill so its time to put some serious thought into keeping ahead of the game and supporting progressive environmentally friendly options.