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    A worker checks the printing of supermarket plastic bags in a factory in Santiago, on July 18, 2018.

    New Zealand to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags in 2019 - Prime Minister

    © AFP 2018 / Claudio Reyes
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday during a beach clean-up at Lyall Bay, located in the country's capital of Wellington, that over the next year single-use plastic bags would be phased out, as the country's government sought to reduce pollution levels.

    "We're phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand's clean, green reputation… Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags – a mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life," Ardern was quoted as saying by the stuff.co.nz news website.

    Ardern added that in the letters that school children address to her, concerns over the use of plastic were the most frequently raised. At the same time, some 65,000 New Zealanders signed a petition advocating a plastic bags ban in 2018.

    READ MORE: Scholar on Al Shabaab Terrorists' Plastic Bags Ban: 'It's Not About Going Green'

    The move was welcomed by non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace.

    "In growing numbers over the last decade, New Zealanders have been calling for a ban on single-use plastic bags. Today marks the beginning of the end for over 2 billion single-use plastic bags that clog our communities, coasts, rubbish dumps and oceans each year," Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Emily Hunter said, as quoted by the media outlet.

    New Zealand joins the ranks of over 60 countries that have already introduced bans or levies on plastic bags, according to the UN Environment Programme. The World Bank's report showed that New Zealanders had been producing over 3.6 kilograms of waste per person every day, which is five times higher than the world's average figure — 0.65 kilograms. This makes New Zealand the world's tenth country in terms of waste produced by urban citizens.

    According to the 2015 Global Ocean Commission's estimates, if serious changes are not introduced, the annual level of plastic pollution can reach 500 million tonnes by 2020.

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