National Plastics Action Plan released

The National Plastics Action Plan outlines the actions we will take on plastics from 2021 to 2024. 

Why we need a National Plastics Action Plan

On average each New Zealander sends at least 60 kilograms of plastic to landfill every year. Our recovery and recycling rates for plastics are low. Plastic is present in our soils, water, food and even the air we breathe.

We envisage a New Zealand where:

  • plastic use is sustainable and innovative
  • plastics are used in a way that protects the environment and benefits society. 

The National Plastics Action Plan builds on the recommendations of the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor in the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand report.

The National Plastics Action Plan will help us speed up our transition to a low-carbon circular economy.

Highlights of the National Plastics Action Plan

Regulated product stewardship

The Government has declared six priority products for regulated product stewardship, including farm plastics and plastic packaging. 

New regulations would increase incentives for circular resource use of these products, and place responsibility on producers to manage the end of a product’s life.

MfE will work with stakeholders to co-design options for these regulated product stewardship schemes.

Potential container return scheme

A container return scheme incentivises consumers and businesses to return beverage containers for recycling and/or refilling, by including a refundable deposit in the price of the purchase. The refund is provided when consumers return their empty container(s) to a drop-off point.

Following the completion of a co-design process, MfE will advise Ministers on the design of such a scheme.

Kerbside collection

MfE is developing options for kerbside recycling standardisation to increase consistency, reduce confusion for householders, improve material quality and reduce residual rubbish to landfill.

Compostable packaging

MfE is preparing a position statement on the use of compostable packaging, and scoping research to better understand impacts of compostable plastics on soils and the food chain. This will enable us to consider using overseas standards for compostable packaging in New Zealand.

Phase-out of single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics

The Government has recently announced action to phase out certain plastics by July 2025. These plastics often end up as waste in landfills and pollute our environment.

  • Hard-to-recycle food and drink packaging made from PVC and polystyrene and degradable plastic products (such as those made of oxo- or photodegradable plastic).
  • Single-use plastic items, including drink stirrers, cotton buds, single-use produce bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.

Plastics Innovation Fund and infrastructure investment

The Government has recently announced a $50m Plastics Innovation Fund to support projects that reimagine how we make, use and dispose of plastics. The fund opens for expressions of interest in November 2021.

In addition, the Government has also invested approximately $100m in recycling infrastructure through the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, including optical sorters to enable better separation of plastics.

See the National Plastics Action Plan