More plastics to be ‘phased out’

The Government has announced that more ‘single use’ plastics will be phased out, in particular:

  • Our first target will be to move away from single-use packaging and beverage containers made of hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyrene. Examples include polystyrene meat trays, cups and takeaway food containers. We will work towards ensuring that these are made of high-value alternatives like PET, HDPE and polypropylene, which can be recycled and reprocessed

Beehive: Govt pledges next steps on plastic waste

The Government will phase out more single-use plastics following the success of its single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year and the release today of a pivotal report for dealing with waste.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealandreport, released by her Chief Science Advisor Prof Juliet Gerrard.

“Our ban on plastic bags has already made a difference as we confront our enormous long-term challenge to tackle plastic waste,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Many New Zealanders, including many children, write to me about plastic – concerned with its proliferation over the past decade and the mounting waste ending up in our oceans.

“I share this concern for our natural environment – one that sustains our tourism, trade and our national identity.

“There’s more to do and our next steps to tackle plastic waste include:

  • Setting goals to shift away from low-value and hard-to-recycle plastic
  • ·Stimulate innovation and development of solutions to the soft plastic problem
  •  

    Accelerate work with local government and industry on better and more consistent kerbside collection of recyclables

  • With industry, continue work to develop a labelling scheme for packaging, including plastic packaging

 

 

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage said the report reaffirms and extends the Government’s ambitious plan to reduce waste, which includes:

  • A container return scheme for drink bottles and cans
  • Regulated product stewardship schemes for tough waste issues such as e-waste, tyres and batteries
  • A National Resource Recovery work programme in response to China and other countries’ bans on importing waste and recyclables
  • Improving waste data
  • Expanding and improving the landfill levy to help fund more ways to recover, re-use and reprocess materials
  • A $40 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to turn plastic waste into useful material for businesses and consumers.

“Our goal must be to make Aotearoa an economy where plastic rarely becomes waste or pollution. As Prof Gerrard says there is no silver bullet and we need a systems change. The recommendations in this report will help us to achieve this.

“I aim to have the full Government response to the Rethinking Plastics report confirmed within six months,” Eugenie Sage said.

Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced globally and nearly 80 per cent of that has gone to the dump or been discarded in the environment. Some 36 per cent of plastic produced today is single-use packaging.

Newsroom: Sequins in our seafood: NZ’s plastic problem revealed

We know there are tiny traces of plastic in New Zealand’s water, soil and seafood, but we don’t know how widespread the problem is or how it’s affecting our health.

We do know that scientists find tiny particles of the stuff virtually everywhere they test for it. Even lettuces have shown they are capable of accumulating micro-plastics, although so far only in the artificial environment of a laboratory.

Until we learn more, we’d better be cautious about the spread of plastic, says a new report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser, Juliet Gerard.

Meanwhile, we know that wasted plastic is killing millions of sea creatures.

In the future, says Gerard, teenagers will look at you funny if you don’t carry your own reusable food container. We will see fewer and fewer bits of washed up fishing rope, and all the plastic we use will be recycled in this country, biodegrade, or go to a leak-proof landfill, stopping toxins reaching the environment.

But getting there is going to require regulation, and better information, the report says. Right now, we don’t even know how much plastic New Zealanders purchase each year, let alone the best alternatives.

Rethinking Plastics is based on work by a panel of 11 experts, covering every part of the plastics chain.

The report is 264 pages, but the Newsroom article details some of the findings.

I think that while in it’s many forms plastic can be a very useful, there is no doubt that the use of plastic has gone too far. Limiting excessive use of plastic is an essential means of limiting unnecessary damage to the environment.

Leave a comment

19 Comments

  1. Reply
    • Pink David

       /  9th December 2019

      Here she is saying ‘period poverty’ whatever that is, is a personal priority for her;

      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12284911

      She also said that mental health was her priority and deeply personal to her. She does use the words priority and personal quite a lot on a very wide range of issues. Child poverty used to be the personal priority, what will be next?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  9th December 2019

        Pads cost as little as $2 a packet, so I can’t see how anyone can’t afford that.

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  10th December 2019

          I think there are likely people who cannot, or at least they struggle to. That, however is a simple poverty issue, and nothing related to the cost of pads.

          Reply
  2. Reply
  3. Corky

     /  9th December 2019

    The problem is you reach a point of diminished returns in return for making things difficult for business. My supermarket has reintroduced plastic bags in the form of compostable ones that aren’t made of plastic. The problem is they aren’t compostable if reports I have read are true. This government has to go…they aren’t business friendly and they don’t build roads.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  9th December 2019

      I have seen many grey and black squirrels, but only one red one. It was in Hyde Park, I think; in London, anyway. Alas, it was before digital cameras and when the squirrel heard the film being wound on, it took off.

      Canadian friends had squirrels and racoons in their garden.

      Reply
      • During my time in London more than a decade ago, there were no red squirrels left, just cute as grey ones.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  9th December 2019

          What a shame. They were rare then and I was very lucky to see one on that visit to London. The red ones are delightful. It’s a treasured memory.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  9th December 2019

            Thank goodness they’re not extinct, just well down in numbers.

            No doubt the PDT will be sorry to hear that they still exist.

            Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  9th December 2019

    Some compostable bags are not compostable in compost bins, but ones made of vegetables are. The problem would be that they use food that is then unavailable for people who need it, so have the potential to cause real hardship.

    As soft plastics can be and are recycled,

    Supposedly biodegradable plastic bags aren’t except for a small % of their material.They’re a have.

    Most of the so-called single-use bags were used many times, according to various studies, unlike the paper ones which use more resources to produce and transport but can’t really be used over and over. I donate the ones with handles to an opshop so that they can have at least one more use.

    I take my own plastic bags to the supermarket for fruit and veg, either an old Pak & Save one or a breadbag (the latter hold a surprising amount)

    Polyprop ones are, of course, still plastic.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  9th December 2019

      PDTs think that polyprop isn’t plastic…do they think that there are polyprop trees ?

      Reply
  5. Gerrit

     /  9th December 2019

    To be taken seriously on banning plastic the government needs to look at banning disposable nappies and baby wipes.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  9th December 2019

      Well, I’d be in favour of banning the so-called flushable wipes that we all know are NOT. They may go down, but they don’t break up and they cause blockages.

      Wipes do have their uses, I must say, but not ones impregnated with cleaning products.What’s wrong with squirting a bit onto a piece of material and cleaning the bench with that ?

      A lot of people seem to use cloth nappies for everyday use and disposables when they go out, so as not to be carrying a dirty nappy around all day; understandable.

      Reply
  6. Pink David

     /  9th December 2019

    “Meanwhile, we know that wasted plastic is killing millions of sea creatures.”

    We know that this ‘wasted plastic’ is almost entirely discarded fishing gear. None of the policies address the actual issue.

    Reply
  7. Corky

     /  9th December 2019

    Sean was talking about the technologies available now for recycling plastic and other products. Companies have approached the government and councils with these technologies- neither are interested because of political ideologically. Depolymerization for example can be used to make bio fuel. This government must be turfed out.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depolymerization

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  9th December 2019

      Who’s Sean ? There are thousands of people called that.

      The only way to get a government out is to vote them out, of course.

      Reply

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