packaging in environment

Ministry position on compostable products

We have released a position statement on compostable products as part of our National Plastics Action Plan.

This position statement is not meant to provide formal guidance for industry or business owners. However, it may provide some useful information about the potential challenges and opportunities for compostable products.

Our position is that industry, businesses and the general public should take a cautious approach when considering using compostable products.

In 2021, we funded research into home composting and home compostable packaging to find out how households were disposing of these products.

We found that 82% agreed or strongly agreed that compostable packaging is better for the environment than plastic packaging.

However, many held incorrect beliefs about compostable packaging — 49% said compostable packaging could be recycled when it cannot. 

Compostable products are often advertised to be an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional plastics. In reality they often require specific conditions to break down safely and may not end up in a compost facility set up for this.

Our position statement describes some of the challenges with compostable products at present and identifies opportunities where compostable products could play a role in a circular economy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It supports Government policy initiatives including the: