Packaging Forum backs plastics phase-out

Packaging Forum backs plastics phase-out

The country’s largest packaging industry group has welcomed Government’s move to phase-out difficult-to-recycle and some single-use plastics..

29 June 2021

The Packaging Forum CEO Rob Langford says the Forum, and its Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme (SPRS), had largely supported the proposal during its consultation period, and were pleased to see Government take the next step.

“There was a long consultation period, as there should be, and it’s great to see Government moving forward. It’s essential there are end-of-life solutions in place for packaging and in the case of the plastic types being phased out that is not the case.

“Oxo-degradable plastics are a prime example as they are neither recyclable or compostable,” Rob says. He added that it’s important to note bio plastics (often referred to as ‘compostable plastic’) will also be part of the single-use plastic item phase-out.

The Forum cautioned against the phase-out causing unintended consequences. As industry moves to alternative materials there must also be the development of recycling, reuse and other end-of-life solutions for these materials, as well as consideration around food safety, Rob says.

“We are therefore urging care when choosing alternatives,” he says.

Rob pointed out alternative materials, such as compostable and fibre (paper and cardboard) packaging also have challenges, especially when we consider New Zealand’s focus on a low-emissions and zero waste economy.

“Our Compostable Technical Advisory Group is currently developing a use-case for New Zealand and is busy consulting with industry and stakeholders,” Rob says.

Moving to alternative materials is a major undertaking for a lot of manufacturers, importers and retailers, he says.

The Forum’s submission during the consultation period called for a full cost benefit analysis, which follows Treasury guidelines, to assess impact on business, food safety, shelf life and cool-chain (particularly for export items).

“That’s where the $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund announced by Government is therefore very welcome and will be vital in helping industry transition and overcome challenges. We are watching with interest to see how those funds will be allocated and excited to see what innovative solutions are developed as a result.”

Phase-out timeline:

By late 2022:

  • PVC meat trays
  • PS (polystyrene) takeaway food and beverage packaging
  • EPS (expanded polystyrene) food and beverage packaging (including meat trays)
  • Degradable plastic products (e.g. oxo-degradable)
  • Plastic drink stirrers
  • Plastic stemmed cotton buds (including bio-plastics)

By mid-2023:

  • Plastic produce bags (not including pre-packaged produce)
  • Plastic plates, bowls and cutlery (disposable)
  • Plastic straws
  • Plastic produce labels

By mid-2025:

  • All other PVC food and beverage packaging
  • All other PS food and beverage packaging (e.g. yoghurt packs)

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