Students press Government for plastic bag ban

GED CANN/STUFF.CO.NZ
Children from a group of schools across the country gathered outside Parliament on Wednesday to deliver a proposal to ban plastic bags.

A crowd of students gathered outside Parliament on Wednesday morning, demanding the banning of plastic bags.

The students were supporting two pupils from Dunedin's Carisbrook School, who had flown to Wellington to present a petition signed by 3600 people calling for a ban.

Central government has been facing mounting pressure to tackle the issue of single-use soft plastics, including an open letter signed by over half of the country's mayors demanding a mandatory bag levy.

Carisbrook School students Caitlyn Petrie, left, and Imogen Yates-Aitken presenting a 3600-strong petition to Parliament on Wednesday.
GED CANN/ FAIRFAX NZ
Carisbrook School students Caitlyn Petrie, left, and Imogen Yates-Aitken presenting a 3600-strong petition to Parliament on Wednesday.

Carisbrook students Caitlyn Petrie and Imogen Yates-Aitken, both 12, said the school's envirogroup had launched the petition after they learned about the environmental damage caused by plastic bags.

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"It's so bad for the environment, and it's going to be our future," Imogen said.

Paremata School students Sebastian Knighton was one of the students chanting: "We are the future - ban plastic bags".

Knighton, 7, said his class had been studying the effect of soft plastics on the health of marine animals.

"I'm here to tell the Government to stop making plastic bags, because they are bad for sea life, and the sea life eat them thinking they are jellyfish," he said.

Students from Kapiti College and Daisies Early Education and Car Centre were also in attendance.

Carisbrook's was not the only petition currently being undertaken by school students in the hope of pressing government into action over plastic bags.

A petition from Wellington's Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, which called for a 10-cent plastic bag levy, has gained more than 9000 signatures.

Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson has been cagey on the subject so far, saying he preferred to work with the sector to tackle the issue, rather than impose a ban or a levy, which he described as "heavy-handed legislation".

To date 39 of New Zealand's 67 regional and city mayors have signed an open letter asking the Government to impose a levy, or step aside and allow local government to take the reins. 

MAYORS WHO HAVE SIGNED THE OPEN LETTER:

Neil Holdom, New Plymouth
Wayne Guppy, Upper Hutt
Grant Smith, Palmerston North
Steve Chadwick, Rotorua
Rachel Reese, Nelson
John Carter, Far North
David Ayers, Waimakariri
Sam Broughton, Selwyn
Sheryl Mai, Whangarei
Lyn Patterson, Masterton
Dave Cull, Dunedin
Lawrence Yule, Hastings
Phil Goff, Auckland
Justin Lester, Wellington
Jim Boult, Queenstown
Meng Foon, Gisborne
Alex Walker, Central Hawke's Bay
Helen Worboys, Manawatu
Michael Feyen, Horowhenua
Greg Gent, Kaipara
Andy Watson, Rangitikei
Craig Little, Wairoa
Bryan Cadogan, Clutha
John Booth, Carterton
Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch
Garry Howard, Buller
Ray Wallace, Lower Hutt
Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill
Winton Dalley, Hurunui
K Gurunathan, Kapiti Coast
Hamish McDouall, Wanganui
Malcolm Campbell, Kawerau
John Tregidga, Hauraki
John Forbes, Opotiki
John Leggett, Marlborough
Bruce Smith, Westland
Mike Tana, Porirua
Graham Smith, Mackenzie