Upper Hutt’s great paper bag giveaway

Published on 25 July 2019

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An offer too good to refuse! Upper Hutt City Council recently received a call asking if they would like some free paper bags. Coming on the eve of recent legislation banning some single use plastic bags, the affirmative response was a no-brainer. The only catch was that the all-or-nothing offer entailed taking more than 3.6 million bags from a warehouse where they had been stored for over four years, following the closure of a local business.

A quick stocktake highlighted the sheer quantity of paper bags and cartons—from large packing boxes and double-ply potato sacks to small lolly bags, there were more than fifty shapes and sizes in all. With the help of Hammond Transport, Council’s Waste Minimisation, Sustainability, and Community and Economic Development teams worked together to set up a suitable site for distributing of the bags, and then spread the word about an impending paper bag bonanza. The open invitation from Council on Tuesday 9 July saw over 220 community groups, schools, colleges, charities, businesses and individuals rehome the paper bags.

“We are stoked with the wide variety of people that benefited from the paper bag giveaway” says Council’s Economic Development Manager, Stuart Grant. “Food banks stocking up with cartons and grocery bags, bakeries taking pie pockets and bread bags, retailers nabbing gift bags and school teachers pretty much taking whatever was left - these paper bags are now out in the Upper Hutt community being used for a wide variety of projects and in local businesses. “We even had one group of children from a local early childhood centre visit us on the day, with the kids each taking away a shape and size which had caught their imagination.”

The paper bag giveaway could not have come at a better time, with the national single-use plastic bag ban coming into effect on 1 July. Whilst the best and most sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bags is to take your own reusable bag, Council retained some of the sturdier gift bag stock, printed them with the ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ message and distributed them to Upper Hutt businesses to help them with the adjustment period to the new legislation.

Feedback following the day has been overwhelmingly positive and Council look forward to seeing the innovative ways in which the bags are used in the community.