"While the key players in the retail sector have been moving quickly and decisively to shift consumers away from plastic bags, many smaller retailers have not had the same appetite - often for fear consumers will respond negatively," Wilkinson said.

"The government-led approach will ensure everyone is on the same playing field, helping alleviate that concern."

Wilkinson said consumers had responded well to large retailers who had already stopped supplying or committed to stop supplying single-use plastic bags.

"Consumers are already responding well to the bigger retailers that have made the move from plastic and there's a general realisation now of the damage this packaging is doing," he said.

"Some of the chains we work with are saying shoppers are almost apologetic if they use a plastic bag, so the message is getting through successfully."

Bunnings has long been plastic bag-free and supermarkets giants Countdown, New World and hardware chain Mitre 10 have already committed to phase out the use.

In June, 13 companies marked World Environment Day by committing to using 100 per cent recyclable packaging by 2025.

New Zealand-based Foodstuffs, Countdown, New Zealand Post and Frucor Suntory, and multinationals Amcor, Danone, L'Oreal, Mars, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestle signed the NZ Plastic Packaging Declaration.

Countdown, Fresh Choice and SuperValue announced they would phase out plastic straws by October 1 this year and move towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by at least 2025.

Five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Photo / FileFive trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Photo / File

Associate environment minister Eugenie Sage said many countries and global cities including six states in Australia, Belgium, France and Italy had already banned single-use plastic bags and microbeads.

Forty-one other countries such as Ireland, Wales and South Africa had introduced levies to drive down the use of plastic bags.

Sage said she believed New Zealanders would embrace the ban.

"Public calls for action have encouraged a significant number of retailers, including supermarkets, to move on single-use plastic bags. We want to support their efforts by ensuring the retail industry moves together in a fair and effective way," Sage said.

"[We] will work alongside supermarkets and other retailers to help people make the change to reusable bags and we want to hear from New Zealanders as to how we can best do this."

In December last year, the Government announced a ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads.

The Government is seeking views on the plastic bag ban until September 14.