We've heard loud and clear that Kiwis want action on plastic bags.
The time to make a change is now.
We are phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags over the next year.
We're listening to New Zealanders who want us to take action. These include the 65,000 Kiwis who signed a petition calling for an outright ban. These also include the hundreds of school children who have written to our PM Jacinda Ardern asking her to save our oceans and our marine life from plastic waste.
We use millions of plastic shopping bags each year in New Zealand, and we tend to use them only once or twice before throwing them out. That's just in New Zealand - worldwide, up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used every year.
Some of our biggest retailers are already taking action to phase out plastic bags. We want to bring all retailers together, large and small, in a way that's fair and effective.
Countries such as France, Belgium, Italy, China have already done this successfully. Six out of eight states in Australia have phased out plastic bags, as have major cities in the United States like Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Many people here in New Zealand are already changing the way they shop - and that's great. We need to get this transition right so we can help all New Zealanders adjust their shopping habits - because we all need to work together to look after our environment.
Our decision underlines our determination to face up to environmental challenges - whether they be climate change, the quality of our water, or plastic pollution.
We want our future generations to have clean oceans to swim and fish in.
If we fail to take action today, we're simply passing on the problem to future generations. That's just not fair.
There are other initiatives underway to address other single use plastics, including the collection of soft plastics for recycling at supermarkets and major retail stores thanks to the Packaging Forum's Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.
We're running a consultation over five weeks to give New Zealanders a chance to share their views on how best to go about the transition, including which bags should be phased out and any retailers that should be exempted. Visit mfe.govt.nz and let us know what you think.
We are confident Kiwis will embrace this change.
None of us want to see our coasts and oceans littered with plastic.
None of us want seabirds, whales, and turtles washing up on our beaches with stomachs full of plastic.
We're a country that's proud of our clean, green reputation - and we want to make sure we can live up to it.