New Zealand to ban plastic shopping bags from next year

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand plans to ban disposable plastic shopping bags by next July as the nation tries to live up to its clean-and-green image.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday that New Zealanders use hundreds of millions of the bags each year and that some of them end up polluting the precious coastal and marine environment.

New Zealand's two main supermarket chains had already announced their own plans to phase out plastic shopping bags by the end of this year.

A number of countries and states have introduced bans or restrictions on single-use plastic bags, including France, Belgium, China, Hawaii and California.

But a major supermarket chain in Australia changed course several times this year after customers got angry about its plans to start charging shoppers for bags.