The International Plastic Menace

Don’t worry about the failing business confidence, the $11 billion budget hole, or the crisis of free expression, because Jacinda Ardern is working hard on the ultimate issue facing us all:

Plastic bags.

  Frightening stuff

Frightening stuff

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage is set to make a “significant” announcement on the environment in Wellington tomorrow morning. Earlier this year Sage said it was her preference to ban single-use plastic bags and said she wanted to phase them out rather than put a levy on them. Companies around the country have been announcing the end to the use of single-use plastic bags throughout the year.

It sure is a significant decision - significantly pointless, significantly silly, and significantly misguided. You see, this is about banning all plastic bags that normal people use (not just this made up newspeak term, “single-use bags”). Plastic bags from the supermarket can be used as trash bags at home or in the car, as water protection for electronics, and other little DIY projects.

This isn’t about saving the environment, it’s about the nanny state telling you what you can and can’t do with the things you own.

In June, 12 companies marked World Environment Day by committing to using 100 per cent recyclable packaging by 2025.
New Zealand-based Foodstuffs, Countdown, New Zealand Post and Frucor Suntory, and multinationals Amcor, Danone, L’Oreal, Mars, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestle signed the NZ Plastic Packaging Declaration.
Countdown, Fresh Choice and SuperValue announced they would phase out plastic straws by October 1 this year and move towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by at least 2025.

Ah the other plastic menace; straws of Satan, as they call them over in California, who are leading the charge against snake-like-straw-things.

  California is known for its successful environmental policies

California is known for its successful environmental policies

See? It’s not just one thing they’ll ban - it’s everything that makes your life easier and more convenient, and they’ll do it in the name of helping you.

Countdown’s general manager of corporate affairs Kiri Hannifin said that by phasing out plastic straws the company would be removing 11.6 million of them from landfills every year.
Scientists estimate that more than 150 million tonnes of plastics are in the ocean and if nothing changes plastic in oceans will weigh more than fish by 2050.

So that’s what this is all about. New Zealanders are world-renowned for our passionate hatred of the environment.

  100% Pure hatred

100% Pure hatred

Let’s be serious for a second here. Protecting the environment is a wonderful thing, and reducing pollution is the number one most effective way to do that, because everyone can get involved. But let's re-read that last line from the Herald, and see if you catch the trick.

Scientists estimate that more than 150 million tonnes of plastics are in the ocean and if nothing changes plastic in oceans will weigh more than fish by 2050.

It’s a sneaky bait and switch - suddenly we’re talking about all the oceans in the world, not just New Zealand’s shopping habits. Are we Kiwis the ones polluting the oceans and destroying ecosystems? No, it’s India that causes most of the plastic pollution.

   
  
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
   Enriching our shores

Enriching our shores

Wait, sorry, wrong polluter - I meant China.

   
  
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
   That’s a lot of plastic

That’s a lot of plastic

Notice how New Zealand isn’t on that list? Notice how the top three Asian polluters put out more plastic than the rest of the planet combined? We’re not the problem here, and neither are our bags.

But what causes this? You might suspect it's just how big countries with big economies work. China is the second...no wait, third largest economy in the world, so of course they pollute a lot.

But the second largest economy - Japan - isn’t on the chart at all, and where is the largest economy in the world, the United States? It’s right at the bottom of this chart; less plastic than North Korea. I didn’t even know the Norks had plastic.

The real cause of pollution is not shopping bags, and it’s not the economy. It’s a contempt and disgust for nature and beauty. By every measure, China is the most polluting country on Earth - and it shows.

china plastic.jpeg