Auckland community members are taking plastic pollution into their own hands and calling into question a million-dollar recycling scheme.
Half the soft plastic recycling scheme is funded by taxpayer dollars but many say New Zealanders should not have to pick up the tab.
Hundreds of residents in the Auckland suburb of Tāmaki are being encouraged by a social media campaign to boycott plastic bags over the next two months.
This follows a second social media campaign to ban plastic in New Zealand all together.
Tāmaki Community Waste Champion Karen Clifford said individuals need to take action by saying ‘no’ to plastic.
“People aren’t aware of the damage that the plastic bags cause. . .they go into landfills and take over a thousand years to degrade,” she said.
The founder of social media campaign Ban Plastic New Zealand Kate Ellmers said with more than 1000 people supporting the movement on Facebook the Government urgently needs to listen and take action.
“Pollution is the new climate change. At this rate we are destroying our clean green image,” she said.
By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Soft Plastic Recycling Project manager Lyn Mayes said the Government has put $1.2 million dollars of taxpayer money into the scheme.
She says the project has collected tonnes of soft plastic from drop-off bins in 70 Auckland supermarkets since it started in November last year.
Some have argued retailers should have to take responsibility for plastic bag pollution, not the taxpayer.
The Piha Store owner Peter Chapman ditched plastic for paper bags last year and said commercial supermarkets should follow suit.
Mr Chapman says the cost of paper bags is nine times the price of plastic bags, but it is a price he’s willing to pay.
Mr Chapman says supermarkets do the bare minimum.
“They [chain supermarkets] try and off set it by saying well you can bring it all back and dump it in the corner.”
Ms Ellmers said neither taxpayers nor storeowners would have to pay for plastic recycling schemes if it were banned all together.
Ms Clifford said her ‘Gotchabag’ Facebook competition encourages the Tāmaki Community to switch to reusable bags and hopes it will stick for good.