Plastic and Related Products Regulations 2022

The regulations will prohibit the sale and manufacture of certain single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic items from 1 October 2022.

Official title

Waste Minimisation (Plastic and Related Products) Regulations 2022

Lead agency

MfE

In force from

1 October 2022 

About the regulations

From 1 October 2022 retailers can no longer sell or distribute the targeted plastic items and they can no longer be manufactured. 

The regulations give effect to policy decisions made in June 2021 following an earlier consultation period.

The regulations were approved and announced in March 2022. This gives businesses a six-month period, until 1 October 2022, to transition away from the targeted items.  

Reasons for the regulations

Plastic is one of our greatest environmental challenges. It regularly ends up as waste in our landfills, our moana and whenua.

Difficult-to-recycle packaging and products can interfere with our recycling systems and are often used only once before being disposed of.

Shifting away from hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics will help reduce plastic waste, improve our recycling systems and protect our environment. This shift is also part of our journey to move Aotearoa New Zealand towards a low-carbon, low-waste circular economy. 

Read more information about how we consulted on banning these items and decisions

Groups that will be affected by the regulations

The regulations will apply to any individual, business or retailer who sells (including suppliers) or manufacturers any of the targeted plastic item(s) in New Zealand.  

This includes: 

  • Manufacturers 
  • Businesses selling the prohibited plastics (this includes providing them for free)
  • Hospitality businesses providing these plastics

Banned items as of 1 October 2022

The following products will no longer be able to be sold or manufactured in Aotearoa from 1 October 2022: 

  1. Plastic drink stirrers  
  2. Plastic stemmed cotton buds 
  3. Oxo- and photo- degradable plastic products 
  4. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pre-formed food trays and containers  
  5. Polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging, eg some sushi trays and takeaway containers  
  6. Expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging, eg foamed cups, bowls, plates, and some grocery products  

Scope of specific items

Plastic drink stirrers

This ban includes plastic drink stirrers made of all plastic types including degradable, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. 

There are no exemptions for this ban. 

Plastic stemmed cotton-buds  

This ban includes plastic stemmed cotton-buds made of all plastic types including degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastics. 

There are exemptions for this ban for medical and scientific purposes – see below for more detail.  

Oxo- and photo- degradable plastic products 

Oxo- and photo- degradable plastic products are typically made of conventional plastic that has been manufactured with additives that help the plastic to quickly fragment into smaller pieces, but don’t break down in a specified timeframe (like compostable plastics). These plastics can’t be composted or recycled in Aotearoa, and they leave micro-plastics in the environment.

The type of plastic products that we know may contain pro-degradant additives (pro degradant plastics) include:

  • Bin liners 
  • Pet waste bags 
  • Litter tray liners
  • Magazine wraps 
  • Dry cleaning bags 
  • Padded envelopes 
  • Garment packaging

While the ban targets all plastics with pro-degradant additives, oxo- and photo- degradable plastics are the most common examples of these plastic types on the market at the moment. There are a few additional plastic types emerging in this category, and we intend to provide updated information prior to these regulations coming into effect. 

PVC food trays and containers (plastic type 3) 

This ban will include pre-formed trays and containers that contain PVC or polyvinylidene dichloride (PVdC), when they are used for meat products (including substitutes), produce or baked goods. The regulations are not intended to ban the same trays if they are used for other purposes. 

A pre-formed tray is intended to capture rigid trays that are manufactured separately to the food it packages. The ban is not intended to cover PVC form-fill-seal packaging where the plastic is formed, filled with food and mechanically sealed on the same line. This type of PVC food and beverage packaging will be captured in the third tranche of regulations, coming into force in 2025.  

Polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages (plastic type 6) 

This ban includes polystyrene used to package food or beverages for immediate consumption – for example, some sushi trays and some takeaway containers from a hospitality venue (eg restaurant, café or other food and beverage takeaway outlet).  

Polystyrene used to package retail products (such as chilled packs of yoghurt or sour cream pottles) are not included at this stage – although they will be captured in the third tranche of bans in 2025. 

Polystyrene drink lids are also not included. We are currently working on a plan for phasing out single-use cups and lids, and will consider polystyrene drink lids through this work. 

Expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging (plastic type 6) 

This ban includes all expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging sold at retail. This includes both food service ware (eg, takeaway foamed clamshells and bowls) and grocery products (eg, instant noodle containers or a foamed cup multi-pack). 

Expanded polystyrene bins (which are sold at wholesale) used to transport items (such as kiwifruit or seafood) through the cold chain are not included. 

Exemptions

Plastic stemmed cotton-buds are exempt from the ban when used: 

  • as a medical device (defined by section 3A of the Medicines Act) and not sold by retail 
  • in a veterinary clinic for diagnosis or sampling 
  • in a commercial food laboratory for food sampling 
  • in a laboratory for scientific investigation 
  • as part of a testing kit for medical or scientific matter, including for infection or immunity and to produce a result without analysis at a laboratory (eg, as part of a COVID-19 RAT). 

Importing and exporting these items

The regulations do not specifically cover imports; however, imports are caught by proxy as the items are banned from sale in New Zealand (and sale includes the free provision alongside a purchased product). 

For example, the regulations do not stop someone from importing plastic drink stirrers into New Zealand. However, they are intended to prevent the sale of those stirrers to anyone else. 

Next bans

There will be two more tranches of phase-outs following this first tranche. Plastic produce bags, plastic tableware, plastic straws and plastic produce labels are intended to be banned by mid-2023. All other PVC and polystyrene food and beverage packaging not covered by the first two tranches will be banned by mid-2025.  

We intend to publish implementation guidance for businesses prior to each tranche of bans coming into force.

See more information about the next bans here:  

Phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics

Plastic items and materials for phase out: tranche 2 and 3

Interim guidance