Packaging Forum supports war on plastic waste

Packaging Forum urges Government support to advance war on plastic waste

The country’s leading packaging member-based organisation is eager to work with Government to bring an end to plastic waste in New Zealand.
9 December 2019

The Packaging Forum, which represents the depth and breadth of the country’s packaging industry, supports the creation of a National Plastics Action Plan including focusing on three priority areas; standardised nationwide kerbside recycling which will enable the roll out of nationally recognised “how and where” to recycle labelling on packaging, which in turn will support investment in onshore processing facilities.

This follows the release yesterday (8 December) of the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand report by the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Juliet Gerrard.

The Forum’s Independent Chair Rob Langford says the report contains a number of important areas of focus. “We absolutely agree we need a National Plastics Action Plan – one which is led by industry and supported by Government,” he says. “Industry needs to lead this as they are the experts on the vital role packaging has to play in containing and protecting food and other products as they move through the supply chain to the consumer.”

The Forum already delivers a number of voluntary product stewardship solutions and projects including those for plastic packaging. In July 2018, The Forum’s members pledged to make all their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable (in NZ) by 2025.

“The pledge shows industry is already taking steps to lead the way to a plastics waste-free future through their commitment to product stewardship.”
For there to be significant action on reducing plastic waste in particular it is important that not only industry take action, but consumers and recyclers are part of the solution, facilitated by Government action, Rob says.

The Forum supports a consistent on-pack recycling labelling system which clearly indicates to consumers how and where to recycle the packaging, and that it has integrity and compliance enforced by an independent government agency.
However, one significant obstacle in launching a national recycling label is that what can be recycled at kerbside varies from council to council around the country, he says.

“The effectiveness of a recycling label will only be as good as the consistency of recycling services nationwide for the packaging material. Until we have consistency of what can be recycled at kerbside across New Zealand to at least 60% coverage, then all labels would need to refer back to the manufacturer or the Council and that defeats the purpose of the label.

“Therefore, we strongly recommend that any announcement about a labelling system goes hand in hand with an announcement to standardise recycling services.”

Investment in onshore processing facilities for the collected material is also vitally important, Rob says. “To move to a circular economy, we have to develop onshore recycling capacity and add value to our collected materials rather than relying on other countries to recycle our waste.”

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