The Packaging Forum – New Zealand’s largest packaging industry group – has come out in support of the Government’s plastics phase-out scheme, but advocates for investment into adequate sustainable alternatives.
Under the Government’s timeline, polystyrene takeaway food and drink packaging will be banned by late 2022, as well as plastic drink stirrers and plastic-based cotton buds. Plastic produce bags, cutlery, straws and labels are projected for phase out by mid-2023.
While the Forum has vocalised its support, CEO Rob Langford has also cautioned on ensuring retailers transition to alternatives that are genuinely good for the planet.
“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,” said Langford. “Oxo-degradable plastics are a prime example as they are neither recyclable or compostable. Our Compostable Technical Advisory Group is currently developing a use-case for New Zealand and is busy consulting with industry and stakeholders.”
While the measure is a welcome step in the right direction, ensuring there are suitable sustainable plastic alternatives has been identified as a major task. The Forum submitted a request during the consultation period, calling for a full cost-benefit analysis investigating the overall impact on the sector – including business, food safety and shelf life. It also called for proper development of recycling and reusing facilities for these phased-out products, to ensure full environmental accountability throughout the supply chain.
“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,” Langford adds. “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.”