New Zealand became the latest country today to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying they will be phased out over the next year as a "meaningful step" towards reducing pollution.
"We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start," she said.
"We're phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand's clean, green reputation." Ardern said her coalition government, which includes the Green Party.
"This could be a major leap forward in turning the tide on ocean plastic pollution and an important first step in protecting marine life such as sea turtles and whales, from the growing plastic waste epidemic," Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Emily Hunter said.
A United Nations report in June said up to five trillion grocery bags are used globally each year, which is nearly 10 million plastic bags per minute.
The UN said more than 60 countries had introduced bans and levies on single-use plastic items like bags. But better waste management, financial incentives to change consumers' buying habits and research into alternative materials were needed to make any real change, it added.
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