Plastic Bag Ban from 1 July 2019

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After 1 July 2019 it will be illegal for businesses to hand out most plastic bags with handles to customers, whether they are sold or given for free. 

As we get closer to this date, Stratford District Council wants to remind businesses of their requirements under this new legislation. 

The Government’s regulations were announced in December 2018, giving businesses across New Zealand six months to transition away from the use of plastic bags. 

Which bags are included?

The regulations apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness.

This includes the light-weight plastic bags commonly found at supermarket, takeaway food and other retail checkouts, as well as heavier boutique-style shopping bags and the ‘emergency’ bags currently offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag.

It will also include bags made of degradable plastic (ie. biodegradable, compostable and oxy-degradable) regardless of whether the plastic material is sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or from biological sources such as plants.

In short, the ban applies to plastic shopping bags which meet all of the following criteria:

  • Made of any type of plastic less than 70 microns in thickness. This includes plastics made from bio-based materials such as starch and plastics designed to be degradable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable, AND
  • Have carry handles including die cut handles, AND
  • Are new or unused.

Which bags are not included in the ban? 

  • Bags without handles including light-weight barrier bags (eg, bags without handles used for containing meat and/or produce)
  • Bin liners/rubbish bags
  • Bags for pet waste or nappies• Bags that form an integral part of a product’s packaging (eg, breadbags and pouches for cooked chicken)
  • Bags that do not contain plastic including bio-sourced plastics (eg, cotton, jute, hemp, paper and flax)• Long-life multi-use bags made from synthetic fabric (eg, nylon and polyester) between 45 and 70 microns in thickness.

Images of bags being phased out 

Guide for businesses

Does the ban apply to all businesses?

Yes, the regulations apply to all retailers in New Zealand, regardless of type and size.

Under the regulations a retailer is a person engaged in business in New Zealand that includes the sale of goods. This includes any kind of shop (e.g. dairies, cafes, takeaway foods, petrol stations, clothing shops, hardware shops, garden centres) and all retail situations, from farmers markets and not-for-profit organisations such as op-shops, through to large department stores and malls. The ban also applies to online businesses that sell goods in New Zealand. 

What should my business use instead of plastic bags?

There are a wide range of plastic bag alternatives available from packaging companies or from local retailers. 
The Ministry for the Environment has provided information on alternatives to plastic bags, and alternatives for different types of businesses, which can be viewed below:

Alternatives to single-use plastic bags 

You can also encourage your customers to bring their own bag, or reuse packaging material you’re already receiving that customers can use for transporting goods, such as boxes or wrapping.

What should I tell my customers?

For frequently asked questions from customers and how to answer click here.

Sharing your packaging change is a good opportunity to engage your customers on your own waste and sustainability efforts, particularly given widespread concern regarding single-use plastics. 
You could even offer an incentive to customers who bring their own bag, such as a small discount on their bill or the chance to go in the draw for a prize. 

What should I do with any plastic bags I have left after 1 July? 

From 1 July, any remaining plastic bags included in the ban will not be able to be provided or sold to your customers for carrying or distributing their goods. 
We recommend reusing your remaining bag stock for internal use, such as for storage or as bin liners. 
You can also offer remaining bags to community groups that undertake beach clean-ups or weed removal.  
We strongly recommend against sending surplus bags to the landfill.

For further advice on non-plastic bag alternatives and reducing waste in your business, contact our Waste Minimisation Officer on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.