New Zealand plans initiatives to eliminate single-use plastics

10 December 2019 (Last Updated December 10th, 2019 10:37)

The Government of New Zealand has decided to implement a number of initiatives to eliminate single-use plastics and reduce waste.

New Zealand plans initiatives to eliminate single-use plastics
New Zealand is setting new goals to eliminate low-value and hard-to-recycle plastic. Credit: Bo Eide.

The Government of New Zealand has decided to implement a number of initiatives to eliminate single-use plastics and reduce waste.

The decision follows a successful implementation of the single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Our ban on plastic bags has already made a difference as we confront our enormous long-term challenge to tackle plastic waste.

“Many New Zealanders, including many children, write to me about plastic, concerned with its proliferation over the past decade and the mounting waste ending up in our oceans.

“I share this concern for our natural environment, one that sustains our tourism, trade and our national identity.”

The country’s primary goal will be to eliminate single-use packaging and beverage containers made from hard-to-recycle polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene, including polystyrene meat trays, cups and takeaway food containers.

Collaboration with the local government and industry will be intensified to promote reliable kerbside collection of recyclables.

The development of a labelling scheme for packaging, including plastics, will continue in collaboration with the industry.

Ardern added: “We will work towards ensuring that these are made of high-value alternatives like PET, HDPE and polypropylene, which can be recycled and reprocessed.

“We can ensure that New Zealand’s future is not full of throw-aways but of smart innovations and practical steps to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Prime minister’s Chief Science Advisor professor Juliet Gerrard released the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand report.

The main recommendations in the report include implementing a national plastics action plan, plastics data collection improvement, developing and enabling consistency in design, use and disposal, embedding Rethinking Plastics in the government agenda, as well as innovating, amplifying and mitigating environmental and health impact of plastics.

According to Environment Associate Minister Eugenie Sage, the report endorses the government’s waste reduction plan, which includes introducing a container return scheme for drink bottles and cans. It also regulates product stewardship schemes for difficult-to-recycle waste items such as e-waste, tyres and batteries.

With the Provincial Growth Fund, the government will invest NZD40m ($26.2m) that will help to introduce plastic waste into a circular economy.

Sage said: “I aim to have the full government response to the Rethinking Plastics report confirmed within six months.”