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.
Food Packaging Forum, 1 July 2021