New Zealand to ban single-use plastic raft by 2025
Single-use plastics such as plates, bags, cotton swabs, straws, fruit labels and some polystyrene products should be banned in New Zealand.
The items will be phased out in three stages between the end of 2022 and July 2025, the government said.
A new fund will also be launched to help find alternatives to plastics.
Environment Minister David Parker said the timing of the ban was aimed at balancing the public call to action and the need for companies to seek alternatives.
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“We encourage businesses and individuals to find reusable options. We know that alternatives are readily available, including recyclable plastic or paper-based containers, ”he said.
Parker said the figures indicate New Zealanders are among the largest generators of plastic waste in the world, throwing out around 159 grams of plastic waste each per day on average.
He said the 2019 plastic bag ban had been well supported by the public and businesses “and we know New Zealanders are ready to do more.”
The bans will phase out hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyrene food and drink packaging, as well as some degradable plastic products. Parker said the changes followed consulting about 8,000 people and companies last year.
New Zealand’s recycling practices are coming under scrutiny amid revelations that hundreds of tons of plastic are still being shipped to countries like Malaysia and Thailand.
The changes were a promise from the Labor Party in the last election and were part of the cooperation agreement between the Labor and Green parties.
Items to be phased out are single-use plastics, including drink stirrers, cotton swabs, product bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.
“Phasing out unnecessary and problematic plastics will help reduce landfill waste, improve our recycling system and encourage reusable or environmentally friendly alternatives,” Parker said.
The policy will remove approximately two billion single-use items from landfills or the environment each year.
The ban will not extend to single-use cups, wet wipes or certain types of expanded polystyrene used to transport cold products and protect large items.
Parker said they are working with industry groups to develop a plan for these items and expects to make a decision on them in 2022.
A new $ 50 million plastics innovation fund will open in November to “help support projects that are reinventing the way we make, use and dispose of plastics,” the minister said.
The fund is intended to help find ideas and solutions to reduce and increase plastic waste.
It is expected to attract applicants from research institutes and companies as well as industry groups, communities and Maori organizations, Parker said.
Green Party waste spokesperson Eugenie Sage welcomed progress in phasing out some hard-to-recycle plastics and some single-use plastics, but said more needed to be done.
Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges and the level of plastic pollution in the oceans is unacceptable, she said.
“The phase-out of polystyrene take-out containers and single-use items such as plastic bags, cutlery and crockery by October 2022 is good for people and the planet. This helps reduce plastic waste and pollution.
But it is disappointing that the government has postponed until mid-2022 the decision to phase out the expanded polystyrene used in packaging for large items and refrigerated boxes, and has yet to act to phase out so-called wet wipes. “Rinsable” containing plastic.
There was a big program of work ahead, and it required a collective effort from government, business, scientists, innovators and households, Sage said.
“The government must lead and take clear and decisive action to drive the change towards increased material recovery, recycling and reduction of plastic waste. “
University of Auckland professor of physical chemistry Duncan McGillivray said the decision to ban the use of certain problematic types of plastic is a wise response to our growing awareness of the persistence of plastic waste in the environment.
“It becomes clear that as plastic waste degrades naturally, it spreads through soil, air and especially water, and is extremely difficult to dispose of or treat, especially as it becomes break down into the smallest pieces – micro- and nano-plastics. “
While scientists are only beginning to understand the effects of this waste on marine life and on humans, it is clear that so far the only reliable solution is to prevent the release of problematic plastic waste, he said. he declares.
Packaging New Zealand also welcomed the government’s announcement of “problem plastics”, saying the industry appreciates the certainty and funding available to develop alternatives.
President Harry Burkhardt said the industry was already showing significant innovations to reduce single-use plastics and develop the “circular economy” and that he would welcome government support.
The $ 50 million Plastics Innovation Fund is a good start, but a nationwide recycling standard would be the best way to reduce the amount of plastics going to landfill, he said.
“Right now, local councils all have their own recycling rules and standards, which means a lot more packaging material ends up in landfills.
“New Zealand has poor recycling infrastructure and the ad hoc approach to recycling nationwide has hampered the industry’s ability to do more in the resource recovery space.”
Packaging NZ also believes that the government should develop a national packaging strategy, rather than treating packaging only as a generator of waste.
“We are eager to learn more about the government’s plans to tackle the waste generated by our construction and demolition industries, which accounts for approximately 40-50% of our total waste going to landfill. “