MEDIA RELEASE: The Government’s announcement to regulate product stewardship for single-use plastic packaging is broadly supported by the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.
29 July 2020
The Packaging Forum set up soft plastics collections in 2015 and the scheme received accreditation as a voluntary product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act in March 2018.
Chair of the scheme Malcolm Everts says that the collapse of global markets for mixed plastics forced a major re-set of the scheme in 2019 and this has been further influenced by COVID-19 limiting collections and processing for a period of time.
“Our scheme is focused on supporting local processors. Two years ago, there was no onshore processing of post-consumer soft plastics. Today there are two North Island plants Future Post in Waiuku and Second Life Plastics in Levin which are great examples of Kiwi ingenuity and we are increasing every month the tonnes which we send for recycling.
“With the expansion of their capacity we can now offer soft plastic recycling to around 60% of the population with drop off points across Auckland, Waikato, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington. We will be adding more stores in more regions throughout the year.”
“As a voluntary scheme, we already have over 70% of industry by volume funding the recycling programme and membership has increased by 20% in the past year to 75 companies. We are also working with members on the design of their packaging, reducing creation of plastic packaging waste, and advocate using our “return to store” labelling system.”
“Scheme members’ levies fund collections from stores, quality checks, baling, transport to end markets and contribute to the processing costs as well. This is different from the traditional model where the processor pays the collector/recycler for the materials, so we are well prepared to transition to a regulated scheme model.”
“We hope to see soft plastic recycling processing projects funded in this year’s Waste Minimisation Funding Round and through the proposed $124 million investment in recycling announced by the Government earlier this month. It is only with a substantial increase in processing capacity including the South Island that the Scheme can deliver its full potential”
“We will work with the Ministry for Environment to develop a sensible co-design process to transition our voluntary product stewardship scheme to meet the new regulations over the next three years. In the meantime, it is business as usual for our scheme.”
MEDIA RELEASE: The cost of dealing with packaging waste and a crumbling international recyclables market has until now been paid by ratepayers, and ultimately by our environment.
29 July 2020
For this reason, the country’s biggest packaging industry group, The Packaging Forum, backs today’s packaging announcement by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. Under the Waste Management Act 2008, plastic packaging will be declared a priority product.
The declaration allows for new regulation that will require all importers, producers and retailers to take responsibility for their packaging under a product stewardship model.
The Forum’s Independent Chair Rob Langford says regulated stewardship is a highly effective way of dealing with packaging and is the most significant move to date by a New Zealand government.
“However, there are pitfalls” he says. “That’s why it’s crucial that solutions are developed and led by business, in consultation with other stakeholders,” says Rob. “Effective solutions require not just the right regulations, but the mechanisms, infrastructure and innovations that business can provide to solve challenges throughout a product’s life cycle.
“Successful product stewardship schemes are not just collections systems. They must address the entire life cycle of packaging material – including product design that minimises waste, collection systems, labelling that is clear and meaningful for consumers, onshore recycling infrastructure, through to gueniuine and valuable use of recycled products. A circular, evidence-based approach is critical.”
Packaging Forum members have been funding voluntary solutions for packaging for a number of years. This includes the only government-accredited schemes for glass bottles and jars, and for soft plastics, alongside delivering the public place recycling initiatives such as the Litter Less, Recycle More project.
“While our voluntary schemes have achieved great results,” Rob says, “regulation shouldallow us to step up the scale of impact by by allowing for the removal of free-riders – those brands that currently choose not to contribute.
“We will now work to transition our voluntary schemes to comply with new guidelines for regulated schemes when they are issued.
While beverage containers were not announced as a priority product today, they were included in the initial consultation.
There is a working group looking at a Container Returns Scheme (CRS) for beverage packaging, however we believe glass, which already has a recovery rate of over 70% and an established onshore recycling solution, should be excluded from any CRS. We are already working on an alternative whole of life cycle model for glass that we are confident will cost consumers substantially less than a CRS scheme.
“We also look forward to working with Ministry for the Environment, local government, the resource recovery sector, and key community groups on co-designed and regulated solutions for packaging types that currently have no stewardship scheme in place,” Rob says.
The Forum accepts there will be a cost to business and ultimately consumers, but believes doing nothing comes at a high price to our environment and future. With regulation bringing the entire industry to the table, they say solutions will be robust, efficient and cost effective. Most importantly, if well designed, they will deliver better environmental outcomes for New Zealand.
MEDIA RELEASE: The Government’s decision to expand and increase the waste levy is a bold and welcome move towards reducing the country’s reliance on landfills in favour of reuse, recycling and composting.
16 July 2020
This according to the country’s biggest member-based packaging organisation, The Packaging Forum. The Forum’s Independent Chair Rob Langford says it fully supports the decision and also welcomes the announcement of $124 million in Government investment in recycling infrastructure.
“This investment is a clear signal that Government is serious about working with industry to reduce waste and increase onshore recycling infrastructure that will create jobs for New Zealanders. It isn’t simply making it more expensive to dispose of waste but wants to develop solutions which decrease the amount of waste generated in the first place,” Rob says.
“This aligns with The Packaging Forum’s goal, which is to work with its over 200 member brands to help them make all their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.”
The Packaging Forum and the Glass Packaging Forum, a stewardship scheme run by The Packaging Forum, made submissions to the Ministry for the Environment earlier this year in support of the increased waste levy. “We are very pleased to see what has been announced aligns with our recommendations to the Minister,” Rob says.
The Packaging Forum operates three government-accredited voluntary product stewardship schemes – the Glass Packaging Forum, Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme and the Public Place Recycling Scheme.
Disincentivising waste through a higher levy, while using the funds generated from it to develop waste reduction projects and infrastructure is a sound approach to tackling New Zealand’s waste problem, he says.
While The Packaging Forum believes the same system of levying should apply across the board, it would also like to see a lower levy for specific by-products of recycling. “It’s important the levy doesn’t disincentivise recycling activity carried out within New Zealand, creating employment opportunities,” Rob says.
The Forum also encourages the Ministry to develop a national waste levy investment plan, focused on the recovery of recyclable resources, so there is transparency about priorities. Additionally, it believes the allocation system for funding should be reviewed so funding is based on projects and their impact, not on a per-capita basis.
“Investment needs to be smart and strategic to achieve the best possible resource recovery outcomes. This goes hand-in-hand with improved tracking and measuring of waste data through robust, independent and transparent methods.”
We look forward to working with the Ministry for the Environment on an investment plan for high quality, onshore resource recovery solutions, Rob says.
MEDIA RELEASE: There’s little doubt New Zealand’s environmental credentials as a clean, green country are under threat.
5 June 2020
With one of the highest per-capita urban waste disposal rates in the world it’s clear we aren’t leading in terms of waste reduction – yet. While it’s easy to point the finger at consumers, it’s producers that have even more responsibility, and the ability, to pivot away from the take-make-waste, linear economy. This will in turn give consumers the ability to support a sustainable, efficient and regenerative circular economy.
The key means to achieving this is through extended producer responsibility (EPR). So, what is EPR and how is it different from product stewardship?
It’s a practice whereby importers and producers of products bear a significant level of responsibility for the impact their products have on the environment, not just at the end of their life, but throughout their lifecycles.
This involves upstream impacts like the selection of materials for the products, and impacts from the production process. It also includes downstream impacts from the distribution, use and disposal of the products and packaging.
Producers practicing EPR design their products to be environmentally friendly throughout their life cycles. They accept legal, socioeconomic or physical responsibility for environmental impacts that cannot be removed by design.
If this is sounding strikingly similar to product stewardship, it’s because the two are technically the same thing – in that producers take responsibility for the products they make and sell at end of life. However, EPR takes a broader approach to the material being used.
The cost of recovering and reusing, recycling or properly disposing of a product at the end of its life needs to be equally distributed through the supply chain. In other words, the material must own the cost of its recovery.
EPR assesses the lifecycles of the materials being used with the aim of ensuring they are cradle to cradle and challenging the use of materials which are cradle to grave. This approach drives product design centred on easy recovery and reuse or recycling as well as more efficient resource use.
Every material is different and simply overlaying a source separation collection model such as a container return scheme (CRS) will have unintended impacts, unless the full material balance is clearly understood.
It’s about understanding that creating less waste isn’t simply about using less, or maximising recycling rates, it’s about avoiding waste through smarter design and improved efficiency. It’s time to challenge the concept of waste reduction and pivot thinking to maximising resource value.
The packaging industry supports a move to an environment which drives the right material use and recovery behaviours, as well as a framework which provides clarity for investment. We also recognise that Government has a role to play in putting in place effective, evidence-based policies and regulatory drivers to support development. Industry has the innovation and expertise to take the lead in shaping solutions that work. But it takes collaboration.
The Glass Packaging Forum’s (GPF) government-accredited product stewardship scheme for glass bottles and jars is an example of moving towards effective EPR. Producers not only take responsibility for the glass containers they make, import and sell, but invest in efficient design such as bottle light-weighting, and using glass which falls into the three colours which can be recycled (clear, brown and green).
The next logical step towards true EPR isn’t simply about effectively recycling glass made from virgin material, but rather producers choosing to use glass containers which already have a substantial recycled component. This way the issue of using virgin material is addressed in favour of a cradle to cradle, circular, flow of resources.
Some producers also support and encourage the refilling of containers where possible, with the product and system design key factors in enabling easy reuse.
The GPF is an example of stewardship working. It’s also an organisation that’s evolving its own model, with a focus on how to deliver a fully costed cradle to cradle EPR solution for glass.
The Packaging Forum, together with our members, is working hard to enable the industry to pivot towards EPR solutions. At the core of this is the Forum’s Pledge 2025 in which we are working towards comprehensive stewardship solutions delivered by industry, in partnership with the whole supply chain, including local and central government and communities, so all packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
We hope you will join us as we strive together for a packaging waste-free New Zealand.
MEDIA RELEASE: New Zealand’s largest member-based packaging organisation, The Packaging Forum, believes a call to ban all plastic bottles is not the solution for ending plastic pollution.
5 June 2020
The Forum was responding to the recent call by Greenpeace which would see all plastic bottles replaced with alternatives such as glass or tin. The issue, says the Forum’s Programme Manager Adele Rose, is that while the idea of a ban is well meaning, it would create as many unwanted issues as the ones it aimed to solve – plastic going to landfill and litter.
“The entire lifecycle of different materials needs to be taken into consideration, such as overall carbon footprint, onshore recycling infrastructure capability, and health and safety, not just the end of life,” Adele says.
All packaging material types have their challenges at end of life, which is why the Forum supports the development of circular economy solutions based in New Zealand for all packaging material types, she says. The circular economy sees resources reused, repurposed or recycled rather than sent to landfill.
“Our members are committed to taking responsibility for their packaging and we have pledged to work with them to make all their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Even then packaging waste could end up in landfill or as litter if government policymakers and consumers don’t also play their part.”
A ban would bring a multitude of issues into play, Adele says. “Consider how many products are imported into New Zealand in plastic bottles between 100ml and 3 litres. There are many products which aren’t sold at dairies or supermarkets, such as supplements used for medical purposes and sold at pharmacies, which would be included,” Adele says.
“Government would also have to consider issues such as the impact the ban would have on free trade agreements, as just one example.”
The Packaging Forum, which includes the Glass Packaging Forum, Public Place Recycling Scheme and Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, agrees with Greenpeace that more can and should be done to deal with the issue of plastic pollution and littering. Public awareness and changing people’s attitude to plastic is key, Adele says.
“We are absolutely for ending packaging waste – it’s our core driver – but it needs to be done using a collaborative approach involving industry, Government and the consumer.”
The Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) has released its 2018-2019 annual accreditation report highlighting the performance of glass recovery nationally, including recycling, mass balance data, funding, and stakeholder engagement.
2 June 2020
The report is an annual requirement of its Government accreditation and demonstrates industry’s long-term stewardship of glass.
GPF Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says work was focused on consolidating gains made over the previous year, particularly removing barriers to glass recycling through improvements to infrastructure, with two primary areas of focus. These being financially supporting improved glass recycling outcomes through grants, and building relationships between glass packaging manufacturers, importers, fillers, and sellers and those who collect and recycle glass.
“Our success this year was due to relationships with our members, councils, community groups, transport operators and end market users,” Dominic says.
“Profile is critical to the scheme’s success and every effort has been made to promote the infinitely recyclable nature of glass right here in New Zealand.”
Mass balance for the year showed a total glass capture rate of 73% of all glass going to market. Of this 71% was recycled – a 9% increase on the previous year – while 14% went to roading, 6% was stockpiled and 7% went to landfill.
Data improvement was a major focus this year, and will remain so, but with the scheme being voluntary it’s accepted the whole picture cannot be known. “As a voluntary scheme there is no obligation for the relevant parties to provide the required data, so it’s an on-going challenge to ensure the majority of glass handled at the various points of its life cycle are accounted for,” Dominic says. “However, we continue to look at ways we can improve our data quality.”
As part of a ‘let’s talk’ approach the GPF achieved a survey engagement response rate of over 60% from both industry and local government. This saw the scheme achieve its 2024 target for survey engagement rates.
Grant allocations were focused on “sensible infrastructure” such as glass storage bunkers and collection of glass for recycling to improve transport efficiency and viability. In total $457,983 was funded for projects ranging from infrastructure to public place recycling, plant and research. This funding helped improve the flow of 11,000 tonnes of glass.
Dominic says he is pleased with progress and believes the scheme is on track to achieving its future goals, most notably a glass capture rate of over 80% by 2024. “Our current 73% recovery rate is enviable for any material in any part of the world, but by continuing to work with stakeholders we are confident of achieving more.”
Read the full report.
As part of our members’ commitment to taking responsibility for their packaging throughout its lifecycle, we’re inviting expressions of interest from members with special expertise or knowledge to join us in forming two technical advisory groups – one for compostable packaging, and another for fibre packaging (card and paper).
28 May 2020
Each of these packaging types has unique challenges when it comes to end of life resource recovery, be it collection, processing or end markets. Sound, scalable solutions will require input from those within the industry as well as others with specialist technical knowledge.
The Packaging Forum had previously formed a working group that was investigating the possible adoption of a compostable packaging standard. This group was disbanded pending the results of research being carried out on compostability of materials by other parties. The scope of the new advisory group will likely extend beyond establishing a standard.
The groups will explore the barriers and possible pathways to end of life solutions for these packaging types. Their findings and advice will inform decisions made by The Packaging Forum board. The terms of reference for the advisory groups will be established at the first meeting of interested parties. The Packaging Forum is committed to continue working collaboratively with other industry groups on these issues.
If you are interested in becoming a member of either of the groups, please register your expression of interest with Adele Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 15 June 2020.
The Packaging Forum set up soft plastics collections in 2015 and the soft plastic recycling scheme received accreditation as a voluntary product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act in March 2018.
Chair of the scheme Malcolm Everts says that the scheme is a genuine example of a circular economy which directly funds collection, transport and processing: “The report shows a tale of two different years and reflects the massive changes in global recycling conditions. Different times need different approaches and we have evolved from collecting as much as possible and shipping it to offshore recyclers, to collecting what we can process here in Aotearoa. Local processing is critical, and we have built close partnerships with Future Post and Second Life Plastics.”
“We adapted the scheme to match collections with NZ processing capacity, plus we have put further focus on reduce and re-use initiatives like phasing out single use plastic bags. It is pointless collecting waste if there is nowhere to recycle it. In 2019, around 13 million bags, enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool were collected and recycled in New Zealand, and that’s without the shopping bags that have been banned. This is in contrast to 2018 when 100 million bags were dropped off for recycling, but overseas recycling markets dried up and we stopped collections temporarily to deal with the excess.”
Mr Everts added: “Product stewardship schemes must be flexible to adapt to the economic and environmental climate. Kiwis are engaged, and happy to clean, collect & deliver material for recycling. Industry is engaged under a voluntary approach and around 70% of brands that use soft plastic are scheme members funding the recycling service and taking steps within their own businesses to reduce plastic consumption where feasible.”
Scheme Manager Lyn Mayes agreed that flexibility and loyalty has been critical:
“Since the scheme received accreditation in March 2018, we first had to deal with the impact of China’s National Sword Policy which resulted in us suspending collections in early 2019 and this year we again suspended collections during COVID-19 lockdown. Throughout these changing times, I would like to thank the ongoing support and loyalty of our members, collection and processing partners and consumers.”
The report concludes that the principal limiting factor for the scheme is that there are only two processors in the North Island which are able to process post-consumer soft plastics and notes that expansion of processing capacity requires:
New Zealand is winning the war on litter, a recent survey shows, with more people aware of public bins, more likely to put litter and recycling in the correct bin, and feel litter is less of a problem in their area.
20 April 2020
The survey, conducted by Horizon Research for The Packaging Forum, spoke to over 1000 people about the Forum’s Public Place Recycling Scheme bins and the Love NZ brand. It found that some 2.3 million adults have public place rubbish and recycling bin in their area.
Public Place Recycling Scheme Manager Lyn Mayes says the statistics are very encouraging. “Two out of three New Zealanders (64%) say they have public place rubbish and recycling bins in their area – up from 40% in 2015.
“We have worked hard with councils and businesses around New Zealand to increase ‘binfrastructure’ and to introduce standardised colours and signage to make it that much easier for people do the right thing and put litter or recycling in the correct bin. It’s great to know it’s working.”
The number of young adults (18-24 years-old) aware of the scheme’s new colour-coded bins, or who have public place recycling bins in their area is a good sign for the future, Lyn says. The survey showed 79% of them have bins in their area and 75% are aware of the new bins.
The colour-coded bins were introduced in 2017 as part of the nationwide Let’s Put Litter in its Place campaign run in partnership with Be a Tidy Kiwi, are having an impact, Lyn says.
“Eighty-three percent of people in the survey say standardised colours and signage make it easier to choose the right bin when throwing away rubbish or recycling while they are out and about.”
The survey shows there is a corresponding decrease in people’s concern around the amount of litter in their area. “This has dropped significantly from 44% in 2019 to 29% this year,” Lyn says.
“Our awareness campaign has seen thousands of Kiwis, including the Prime Minister, politicians and celebrities, pledge to ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’ and stop littering. It’s rewarding to see that one in three understood the idea behind the campaign and would now ask someone to pick up litter if they saw someone drop it, while a similar number would pick litter up themselves.”
Women, she says, were shown to be more like than men to ask someone to pick up litter.
Not all the statistics showed improvements. People’s willingness to walk a short distance to find a bin had changed little, with 79% prepared to walk more than 10 metres – the same as 2019.
However, there was an increase in the number of people prepared to walk more than 40 metres to find a bin, with 37% saying they would – up from 29% in 2019 and 23% in 2018.