It’s been nearly a year since I submitted the “ban plastic bags in Auckland” petition to Mayor Len Brown and the Auckland Council. Since then there has been a flurry of activity, well, as much of a flurry that can happen in a large paper-weighted organisation like a Council. Nevertheless, progress has been made.
- The petition got forwarded to the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee for investigation of how such a ban could be enforced by the Council.
- On March 3rd 2015, the committee found that while current legislation restricts the council form enforcing a charge or a ban on single use plastic bags in Auckland, the committee voted unanimously to support having a plastic bag free Auckland. They made a number of resolutions:
- Support the establishment of a packaging workgroup to develop an accord on how to minimise packaging waste, including plastic bags
- Support making Auckland plastic bag free
- Request officers to undertake further work on how to make Auckland plastic bag free and report back recommended actions to this committee, including:
- to make Auckland plastic bag free
- to minimise the use of single use plastic bags, such as integrating messaging into planned campaigns and council walking the talk.
- options to reduce other forms of plastic entering the natural environment
So, what does that mean?
What it means is that we are going to have meetings. Because meetings make things happen. The lovely people over at Auckland Council have established a ‘Packaging Workgroup’ – which is a rag-tag collection of retail, manufacturing, recycling, science (me), community and council representatives. We are going to work together to come up with solutions to reduce plastic bag use and work towards making Auckland plastic bag free.
BUT THERE’S MORE! Because the Council found that they have no mandate for a plastic bag ban at the regional level, the campaign has been kicked up a notch. Denise Roche from the Green Party New Zealand is travelling the country announcing the “Say NO to plastic bags” campaign. We are taking it the National Government, because we think that the environment is worth more than a 12 min-use-plastic bag.