The New Zealand Government has announced a plan to ban various types of plastic beyond single-use plastic bags and is inviting the key stakeholders and the public to weigh in on the proposal.
The types of plastic that would be affected by the bans include hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyerene packaging, oxo-degradable plastic and seven different single-use plastic items. They include plastic straws, drink stirrers, produce bags, tableware and non-compostable fruit stickers.
The bans would be implemented gradually with the idea that all bans would be in place by January 2025. Provisions would be made for people who need straws due to a disability.
The proposed bans are laid out in a consultation document, Reducing the impact of plastic on our environment, which the Government released today, Wednesday, August 12.
Key stakeholders have been invited to weigh in on the plan, with the wider public able to join the conversation in six weeks’ time. The consultation period closes on November 4.
The announcement was made at an event in Auckland to kick start local retailer Ecostore’s bottle recall scheme, which is being supported by a $200,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund.
The grant will help Ecostore to create New Zealand’s first high-density closed loop packaging return program. This means customers will be able to drop off their used Ecostore bottles at collection points, so they can be ground down, sterilised and recycled for use in the manufacture of new bottles.
Speaking at the event, Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage called plastic one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the current generation.
“New Zealanders want urgent change in the area of plastics. We saw that with the support for banning single use plastic bags, which has meant 1.1 billion fewer plastic bags ending up in landfills or the ocean,” Sage said.
“I am confident that as a country we can tackle the challenges around problem plastics.”
She added that businesses like Ecostore show how it’s possible to stand up against single-use and find new ways of doing things.
Leading environmental organisation Greenpeace welcomed the Government’s announcement, but called for it to be expanded to include plastic drink bottles.
“The world is drowning in plastic pollution, so it’s great to see the Government is stepping up to our challenge for more action to cut it off at the source by phasing out a wide range of single-use plastics,” Greenpeace campaigner Holly Dove said in a statement.
However, an estimated 1 billion plastic drink bottles are sold to New Zealanders every year, Dove said, and the majority end up in landfill and the sea.
“To really make a dent in the tide of plastic pollution, we need to get rid of throwaway plastic drink bottles, and establish reusable alternatives and systems to collect and reuse plastic alternatives,” she said.