Retailers say competition laws block charge on plastic bags

by RNZ / 24 July, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - plastic
The retail industry supports action to reduce the use of plastic bags but a levy could mean high costs for businesses, Retail New Zealand says.

Last month, mayors from Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin sent an open letter to other mayors and the Environment Minister asking them to support a call for central government to introduce a national levy on single use plastic bags.

According to the mayors, 1.5 billion plastic bags are used here each year and on average it takes just 12 minutes before a bag enters the waste stream.

But Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson has said his preference would be for a voluntary system rather than a levy, though he was keen set up a working group to explore options.

Retail New Zealand spokesperson Greg Harford told Nine to Noon there was widespread support among the organisation's 4200 members for reducing plastic bags. 

"We were quite surprised at the amount of passion that the issue engendered."

But he said a levy could leave them open to accusations of price-fixing by Commerce Commission.

"There were some discussions going on about this amongst retailers some years ago and those involved got stern letters from the Commerce Commission at the time telling them they may be in breach of the Commerce Act and that they needed to go and seek legal advice." 

He said there was a process by which retailers could agree on a levy and then seek Commerce Commission approval, but the organisation had been told at the time it would require firms to hire competition lawyers and could cost millions of dollars. 

Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett is backing a compulsory government levy, which she said had worked in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

A levy may be an interim step before a ban is introduced, she said.

"I think New Zealanders would be horrified to realise that essentially we have created a garbage patch in the South Pacific of all our plastics."

This story was first published on RNZ

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

When Sir Bob Jones met Muhammad Ali
81845 2017-10-23 00:00:00Z Books

When Sir Bob Jones met Muhammad Ali

by Bob Jones

A new biography finds fault with the legendary fighter, but praise wins by a mile.

Read more
Announcing the finalists of the NZ Craft Awards 2017
81876 2017-10-23 00:00:00Z Culture

Announcing the finalists of the NZ Craft Awards 20…

by NZTV Craft Awards

The finalists of the New Zealand Craft Awards have been announced and here is the complete list.

Read more
Hand, foot and mouth disease is not nearly as scary it seems
81868 2017-10-23 00:00:00Z Health

Hand, foot and mouth disease is not nearly as scar…

by Ruth Nichol

It sounds alarmingly like foot and mouth disease, but all they have in common is they are viral.

Read more
What to do in Auckland if you're a local who wants the tourist experience
81902 2017-10-23 00:00:00Z Travel

What to do in Auckland if you're a local who wants…

by Pamela Wade

After living in Auckland for almost 25 years, Pamela Wade decides to reacquaint herself with the city where she still feels like a stranger.

Read more
The Lesley Calvert cold case: 40 years of torment
80160 2017-10-22 00:00:00Z Crime

The Lesley Calvert cold case: 40 years of torment

by Chris Birt

The mum-of-three was found on a hillside in sight of her farmhouse where she'd disappeared 7 months earlier. Suspicions swirled, but no answers found.

Read more
When I went to Rimutaka Prison for a three-course meal
81858 2017-10-22 00:00:00Z Food

When I went to Rimutaka Prison for a three-course …

by Lauraine Jacobs

A three-course meal inside prison walls proves a rewarding experience for food columnist Lauraine Jacobs.

Read more
The Lundy murders: Inside the case that gripped the nation for 17 years
81945 2017-10-21 07:23:00Z Crime

The Lundy murders: Inside the case that gripped th…

by Anne Marie May

A court reporter who's covered both of Mark Lundy's High Court trials looks at how the case has evolved, as the Court of Appeal deliberates his fate.

Read more
The Weinstein scandal is no surprise to this prominent NZ employment lawyer
81809 2017-10-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

The Weinstein scandal is no surprise to this promi…

by Mai Chen

In 25 years of law practice, Mai Chen has helped many women – very often senior employees – who have suffered from sexual harassment.

Read more