On June 27, 2021, New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment announced a plan to “phase out” many hard-to-recycle plastics and single-use items, mostly related to food packaging, by mid-2025. By the end of 2022, New Zealand will no longer allow polyvinyl chloride meat trays, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging, and plastic drink stirrers. The nation is also banning degradable plastic products, such as those designed to break down through oxo- or photodegradation, because “the plastic still degrades into smaller pieces (microplastics) though at a faster rate than conventional types of plastic. These plastics are also another source of contamination for our recycling system as they cannot be composted or recycled” (FPF reported here and here). Plastic tableware, produce bags, and produce labels will be banned by mid-2023, and any remaining PVC or polystyrene food and beverage packaging by mid-2025.
According to Environment Minister, David Parker, beginning in November 2021 a new $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund “will be available for innovative projects from designing out waste in products and packaging, or adopting and scaling up existing technologies, through to switching materials and developing recycling solutions not currently available.” The plastics bans and innovation fund are a follow-up to the 2019 Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand report and to the nearly 8000 responses the government received during the 2020 public consultation period.
In neighboring Australia, the state of New South Wales released a six-part Plastics Action Plan that includes a timeline for phasing out the most littered “single-use and problematic” plastic items, nearly all of which are food packaging (FPF reported). The state of Western Australia has moved its Plan for Plastics four years ahead with single-use plastic bowls, cups, plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, polystyrene food containers, and thick plastic bags to be phased out by the end of 2021. The two states together represent approximately 40% of Australia’s population. In April 2021, Australia’s federal environmental office announced a National Plastic Plan outlining an approach to increase plastic recycling, find alternatives to unnecessary plastics, and reduce the impact of plastic on the environment (FPF reported).
New Zealand Ministry of the Environment (June 2021). “Phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics.”
Hon. David Parker (June 27, 2021). “Government takes action on problem plastics.” The Beehive
New Zealand Ministry of the Environment (August 2020). “Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand: Government response to the Rethinking Plastics report.”
Western Australia (June 13, 2021). “Western Australia’s plan to ban single-use plastics fast-tracked.”
New South Wales (June 2021). “The NSW Plastics Action Plan.”
Madeleine Keck (June 21, 2021). “These Two Australian States Just Announced Major Single-Use Plastics Bans.” Global Citizen