The government has today announced $5 million in funding for projects that will reduce plastic waste.
Among the innovations being invested in are recycled pipes, bio-degradable nursery pots and turning polystyrene into building products.
Environment Minister David Parker said Aotearoa has some way to go to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of its recycling practices.
“Five hundred and nine thousand tonnes of plastic is imported into New Zealand annually and 60 percent of that is used by plastics and the packaging industry. This scheme will help push us closer to that circular economy we all want.”
Parker said microplastics were having an incredibly detrimental effect on the environment.
“The quantity of plastic waste in the sea is soon to overtake the biomass of fish in the sea which is a shocking statistic.”
Parker said even with radical change, this was set to worsen up to five times before it got better.
He said wealthy countries such as New Zealand needed to be leading by example.
The government was providing $1m to design a regulated plastic packaging product stewardship scheme over two years.
The Packaging Forum and the NZ Food and Grocery Council will also contribute funding to the project, which will cost a total of $1,361,000.
Tony Nowell who will chair the project said today’s announcement was a pivotal moment that will transform how we use and recover plastic packaging in New Zealand.
“Ultimately, the project will look at how plastic is currently collected – or not – and whether there is a more efficient and effective way to do this.”
However, not everyone was supportive.
Plastics NZ chief executive Rachel Barker believes moving away from plastic packaging without proper analysis will result in increased food waste and emissions.
“Focusing only on plastics means that producers are less likely to consider overall environmental impacts as increased costs will drive them to consider only the end of life.”