The Packaging Forum has given its support to the New Zealand government’s plans to improve plastic recycling and waste reduction efforts, which was recently announced by New Zealand’s Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage.
The Packaging Forum is an amalgamation of the Glass Packaging Forum, Soft Plastic Recycling, and the Public Place Recycling Scheme, which aims to reduce landfill and promote packaging recycling.
Announced plans by the New Zealand government include investigating product stewardship, improving kerbside recycling and running an education campaign to help the public improve its recycling efforts.
“As a country, we have been sending our waste issues offshore. China’s National Sword initiative has been a wake-up call that we need to deal with waste here in New Zealand,” Sage said.
Packaging Forum chairman Rob Langford said the time for talk is over. “We need action. The forum currently operates the only government-accredited product stewardship programs for glass bottles and jars, and for soft plastics, alongside delivering the Litter Less Recycle More project,” he said.
“We are also in the early stages of developing a stewardship program for rigid food and beverage plastics, so we are 100 per cent with the minister in wanting to take the lead on improving outcomes for food and beverage packaging, which is often recycled at kerbside in New Zealand.”
The Packaging Forum particularly welcomed product stewardship plans, which it indicated would help ensure manufacturers and retailers consider what happens to packaging once a product has been used by the consumer.
In 2018, the Packaging Forum made a pledge on behalf of its 200-plus members, including manufacturers, brand owners and retailers, to make all packaging recyclable or compostable by 2025.
“In order to do this, we need to use product stewardship as a tool for putting practical solutions in place to tackle plastic waste. Careful consideration must be given to creating a balanced recovery/reuse solution for materials onshore that will deliver world-class results without simply burdening the consumer with costs. Only product stewardship will deliver a fair outcome,” Langford said.
“Resource recovery markets are struggling since the enforcement of China’s National Sword policy saw the collapse of global markets for mixed plastics, mixed paper and cardboard. Addressing these issues is key, but also complex, with many aspects to consider, such as the different types of plastic and the role plastic packaging plays in food safety and preventing food waste.
“Our current rigid food and beverage plastic project will be looking at all aspects, such as packaging design, alternative technologies and investment in onshore processing.
“It will be fully inclusive and all options for tackling plastic packaging waste will be on the table, as we create practical solutions which will address the key issues and support the growth of a circular economy in New Zealand,” Langford said.