Taking action on problem plastics

Today Environment Minister David Parker announced that some problem plastics and six single-use plastics will be phased out by July 2025.

The plastics being phased out are:

  • hard to recycle food and drink packaging made from PVC and polystyrene and some degradable plastic products (eg, oxo- and photo-degradable)
  • single-use plastic items including drink stirrers, cotton buds, single-use produce bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws, and fruit labels.

“These types of plastics often end up as waste in landfills and cause pollution in our soils, waterways and the ocean. Reducing plastic waste will improve our environment and ensure we live up to our clean, green reputation,” David Parker said.

The Minister said that phasing out unnecessary and problematic plastics will help reduce waste to landfill, improve our recycling system and encourage reusable or environmentally responsible alternatives. 

New Zealanders support urgent change in how we use plastic

Every day New Zealanders throw away an estimated 159 grams of plastic waste per person. This makes us some of the highest waste generators in the world.

Almost 8,000 people and businesses responded to our plastics phase-out consultation last year, and the majority supported the proposals.

Strong support for the 2019 plastic bag ban has meant over one billion fewer plastic bags have ended up in landfills or oceans.

We can do more. Businesses and people are encouraged to find reusable options.

The plastics phase-outs will take place in three stages starting in October 2022

Plastics will be phased out under Section 23(1)(b) of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008:

Late 2022 

PVC meat trays, Polystyrene takeaway packaging, EPS grocery packaging, degradable plastic products (eg, oxo- and photo-degradable), plastic drink stirrers, plastic-stemmed cotton-buds.

Mid 2023

Single-use plastic produce bags, plastic tableware (plates/bowls/cutlery), plastic straws*, non-compostable produce labels.

Mid 2025

All other PVC and polystyrene food and beverage packaging

Further work is needed on single-use cups and certain types of expanded polystyrene used to transport cold items or protect large items.  

*It is important that disabled people continue to have fair access to plastic straws without discrimination. We will work with the disabled community to ensure this.

Plastics Innovation Fund to support projects that reimagine plastics

The Environment Minister has also launched a $50 million Plastic Innovation Fund to help New Zealanders rethink and redesign the way we make, use and dispose of plastic.

Projects could:

  • design out waste in products and packaging
  • adopt and scale up existing technologies
  • switch out materials and develop new recycling solutions.

The fund opens in November 2021. A wide range of applicants can apply including research institutes, business sector groups, communities and Māori organisations.  

Addressing the plastics problem requires action across borders

New Zealand wants to be part of global solutions to tackle the impacts of plastic pollution.

The Environment Minister said New Zealand supports coordinated global action through discussions towards a new global agreement at the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2022.

More on the plastics phase-out and Plastic Innovation Fund

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

Download the plastics phase-out infographic 

Plastics Innovation Fund

Environment Minister's media release [Beehive website]

Media enquiries

Ministry for the Environment

027 231 6930