As the phasing out of single-use plastics in the supply chain and consumer packaging becomes more and more common, Packaging NZ and Plastics NZ have acknowledged the need for a national strategic plan to be put in place in order to address the growing issues around plastic waste.
In a joint statement, the two industry bodies welcomed the Sustainable Business Network’s report on plastic packaging, but said they also want sensible, well-considered, fact-based action.
“We certainly support brand owner and retailer actions to eliminate unnecessary packaging, reduce problematic materials, increase recycled content and to launch innovative reuse models,” the statement said.
“[However], simplified characterisation of packaging as ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘single-use’ ignores the important ability of plastics packaging to safely deliver products to market in perfect condition, across long supply chains and with lower environmental impact than most other packaging materials.”
The statement cautioned against making any rash changes that could end up putting cost pressures on the most vulnerable in society.
“We must avoid changes which push manufacturing off shore, putting New Zealand business and jobs at risk, especially where it is clear there will be no net benefit socially, environmentally or economically,” the statement continued.
The Warehouse Group chief sustainability officer David Benattar told IRNZ that meeting customer expectations is at the heart of the business, including adapting to changing shopping habits surrounding plastics.
“As our customers seek out more sustainable packaging options and get used to the phasing out of single use plastic bags, we’re working with the merchandise and operations teams across all our brands to make sure that the introduction of reusable bags, and the phasing out of single use plastic bags in our supply chain, is as seamless for our customers and team members as possible,” Benattar said.
According to Benattar, The Warehouse Group aims to have a sustainable solution in place for customers by July next year.
Supermarket chain Countdown has also committed to removing single-use plastic bags from its stores, and is trialing the use of paper bags in some bakeries.
“We’re also now turning our focus to the produce and fresh sections of our stores in our wider efforts to remove and reduce unnecessary plastic and packaging wherever we can,” Countdown general manager of corporate affairs and sustainability Kiri Hannafin said.