New Zealand has officially implemented its ban on thin plastic bags, as part of the government’s wider initiative to minimise the use of single-use plastics.

New Zealand has now become the first country to ban single-use, thin plastic bags, according to various media reports.

Starting from 1 July, the country has gradually replaced thin plastic bags, primarily used for carrying fruits and vegetables, with reusable alternatives, reported the BBC.

Apart from thin plastic bags, the latest/second phase also places a ban on the circulation and use of single-use plastic drinking straws, single-use plastic tableware and cutlery, as well as plastic produce labels, reported RTE.

“New Zealand produces too much waste, too much plastic waste,” New Zealand’s Associate Environment minister Rachel Brooking was quoted by the publication as saying.

Brooking highlighted that the country has saved more than one billion plastic bags from entering landfill since the government imposed a ban on thicker bags in 2019.

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Brooking added: “It is still worth doing this, but we really want to reduce single-use anything packaging. So, we want people to be bringing their own bags, and supermarkets are selling reusable produce bags.”

The latest move comes as part of the New Zealand government’s previously announced efforts to phase out hard-to-recycle, single-use plastic items from the country by July 2025.

Announced in June 2021, this initiative is being executed in three phases, including the first phase, which took place in October 2022, the second phase taking place this month, and the final phase that is hoped to culminate by July 2025.

As a result of the initial phase, according to New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment, various single-use plastic items, including cotton buds with plastic stems and plastic drink stirrers, have already been banned in the country.