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Plastic products banned from October 2022

plastic image

This guidance is to support individuals, businesses and retailers who sell or manufacture any of the products banned from 1 October 2022. This is tranche one of the bans.

Plastic products banned

From 1 October 2022 it is illegal to provide, sell or manufacture the following plastic products in Aotearoa New Zealand:  

  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers (all plastic types)
  • Single-use plastic cotton buds (all plastic types)
  • Plastics with pro-degradant additives (subset of plastic type 7)
  • Certain PVC food trays and containers (plastic type 3)
  • Polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging (plastic type 6) 
  • Expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging ((plastic type 6).

See the regulations: Waste Minimisation (Plastic and Related Products) Regulations 2022 (SL 2022/69) [New Zealand Legislation website].

Further plastic bans are expected to come into force in 2023 and 2025 (tranche 2 and 3). For an overview of the products included in those bans see Phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics.

MFE Plastics Phaseout Tranche 1
Illustration showing plastic products banned from 1 October 2022 (tranche 1) and alternatives.

Download the infographic [PDF, 2.7 MB]

MFE Plastics Phaseout Tranche 1
Illustration showing plastic products banned from 1 October 2022 (tranche 1) and alternatives.

Download the infographic [PDF, 2.7 MB]

Why we are banning these plastics

Plastic is one of our greatest environmental challenges. Many single-use plastic products are used only once, not properly disposed of and end up littering our moana and whenua.  

Hard-to-recycle packaging and products can cause contamination and interfere with our recycling systems.  

Moving away from hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics will help: 

  • reduce our plastic waste 
  • improve our recycling systems  
  • protect our environment.  

Descriptions of banned products, exemptions and alternatives

Single-use plastic drink stirrers

Description of banned product

A single-use plastic drink stirrer is any beverage stirrer made wholly or partly of plastic, including compostable and biodegradable plastic, designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away. 

They are used by hospitality outlets that import them and are commonly sold by small retailers. 

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to the ban on single-use plastic drink stirrers. 

Is your single-use plastic drink stirrer included in the ban?

  • Is the product made of plastic and designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away?
  • Is the product intended to be used to stir beverages? 

If the answer to both questions is yes, your single-use plastic drink stirrer may be included in the ban.  

Alternatives

Instead of single-use plastic drink stirrers, you can manufacture or supply:

  • Reusable spoons
  • Wooden (fibre) drink stirrers ideally free from intentionally added per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

Reusable spoons (eg, metal) are a better alternative to single-use drink stirrers made from other materials (eg, wood) because they create less waste. 

Note

PFAS (including PFOA, PFOS etc.) are often used in single-use fibre packaging to provide resistance to oil compounds and water. PFAS are becoming a major concern as an ingredient in food contact materials as they can accumulate in the soil, plants, and consequently the food chain. 

Single-use plastic cotton buds 

Description of banned product

A single-use plastic cotton bud has a stem made wholly or partly of plastic with cotton wool (or synthetic fibre) wrapped around one or both ends, or has a non-plastic stem with synthetic fibre wrapped around one or both ends. They are designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away.

They are commonly used for makeup application/removal, removing nail polish, applying creams or lotions and cleaning ears.  

The ban includes compostable and biodegradable plastic.  

Exemptions  

There are exemptions from the single-use plastic cotton bud ban for medical or scientific purposes.   

This means they can still be manufactured and sold when the cotton buds are used:

  • As a medical device and not sold by retail
  • At a veterinary clinic
  • In a commercial food laboratory for food sampling
  • In a laboratory for scientific investigation
  • As part of a testing kit (eg, as part of a COVID-19 rapid antigen test).

Is your single-use plastic cotton bud included in the ban?

  • Does the product contain plastic and/or synthetic fibre and is it designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away?
  • Is the product used for purposes that are not medical or scientific? 

If the answer to both questions is yes, your single-use plastic cotton bud may be included in the ban.  

Alternatives  

Instead of single-use plastic cotton buds you could manufacture or supply: 

  • Non-synthetic fibre cotton buds ideally free from intentionally added PFAS 
  • Reusable cotton buds (made of silicone or other materials).   

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pre-formed food trays and containers  

Description of banned products 

Pre-formed trays and containers that contain any PVC (plastic type 3) or polyvinylidene dichloride (PVdC) when they are used for products including: 

  • Meat, fish, poultry, or any substitute of those including fresh, preserved or frozen 
  • Fresh produce 
  • Baked goods.    

A pre-formed tray or container is manufactured separately from the food it packages. If the PVC plastic is formed, filled with food and then mechanically sealed on the same line, it is not in the scope of this ban. 

The regulations are not intended to ban PVC if they are used for other purposes not listed in this guidance and in the regulations. A ban on all PVC food and drink packaging is expected to come into force in mid-2025. 

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to the ban on PVC pre-formed food trays and containers.

Is your PVC or PVdC product included in the ban? 

  • Is the product pre-formed and then separately filled with food (eg, the trays are manufactured and then sold to another business for use as a meat tray)?  
  • Is the product used to package meat products (including meat substitutes), produce, or baked goods?  

If the answer to both questions is yes, your PVC or PVdC packaging may be included in the ban. 

Alternatives 

Instead of PVC pre-formed trays and containers, you can manufacture or supply: 

  • Recyclable plastic trays or containers such as PET (type 1) and PP (type 5), or 
  • Fibre-based trays or containers that are ideally free from intentionally added PFAS. 

PET trays (plastic type 1) are a good alternative to PVC pre-formed trays. They can be recycled onshore into other PET products. You can find manufacturers at Plastics NZ. Alternatives that use recycled content help to reduce waste and emissions by keeping materials in use for as long as possible. PP trays (plastic type 5can also be recycled in Aotearoa New Zealand.   

Polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages 

Description of banned product

Polystyrene (plastic type 6) used to package ready-to-eat food and beverages including:  

  • trays
  • takeaway containers
  • clamshells and bowls 
  • or any other form of polystyrene packaging which is filled with food or beverage at a retailer but not manufactured there.

Ready-to-eat means food and beverages supplied for immediate consumption such as food and beverages purchased for takeaway from a restaurant, café or stall, or cups provided at an office water cooler. It also includes food and beverages prepared for immediate dine-in eating (eg, sushi prepared at a café or restaurant).  

The ban applies to any type of polystyrene (eg, expanded polystyrene and rigid polystyrene).

  • Expanded polystyrene includes expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene - both of which are white foams. It is often used for takeaway clamshells and bowls.  
  • Rigid polystyrene includes rigid polystyrene and high-impact polystyrene – both of which are brittle. Rigid polystyrene is clear and can be confused with PET or even glass while high-impact polystyrene is white.

Examples of pre-formed polystyrene packaging for ready-to-eat foods:  

  • An expanded polystyrene clamshell/container used for ready-to-eat food (eg, burger container, takeaway container) 
  • An expanded polystyrene container for takeaways from a restaurant, café or stall 
  • An expanded polystyrene cup 
  • Polystyrene sushi trays.   

Note that polystyrene drink lids (eg, coffee cup lids) are not in-scope of the polystyrene ban. The Ministry is currently looking at policy options for single-use cups and lids and we will consider PS drink lids through this work.  

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to the ban on polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages. 

Is your polystyrene food and beverage packaging included in the ban?

  • Is the polystyrene used to package food or beverage for immediate consumption?
  • Is the packaging filled at the retailer (as opposed to being mechanically filled and sealed off-site)?

If the answer to both questions is yes, your polystyrene packaging may be included in the ban. 

Alternatives 

Instead of polystyrene packaging for ready-to-eat food and beverages, you can supply or encourage reusable packaging.  

Businesses can encourage customers to bring their containers or you can sign up for a reusable container/packaging service that provides the type of packaging you need. Examples of reusable packaging services are AgainAgain and Reusabowl.   

If reusable packaging is too challenging for your product/service, you can supply single-use packaging made from: 

  • Recyclable plastic packaging such as PET (type 1) and PP (type 5), or 
  • Fibre-based packaging that is ideally free from intentionally added PFAS.  

Single-use alternatives are available in Aotearoa New Zealand and online.   

Expanded polystyrene food and beverage retail packaging 

Description of banned product 

Food and beverage packaging made from expanded polystyrene (plastic type 6) and sold at retail. This includes pre-formed expanded polystyrene products (eg, food service ware) and form-fill-seal EPS packaging (eg, expanded polystyrene instant noodle cups).

Retail includes:

  • people and businesses that sell products directly to consumers including supermarkets and convenience stores 
  • other businesses that sell food and beverages directly to consumers.

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 'sold' also applies to products that are given away for free.

Exemptions

We heard through consultation that phasing out expanded polystyrene used to transport cold items such as medicines or seafood, and protective packaging for electronics and homeware items will be challenging.

Because of this expanded polystyrene used for these purposes is not included in the ban. The Ministry is working with sector experts to identify possible solutions and areas where alternatives could be used.

Is your expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging included in the ban? 

  • Is the product/packaging made from expanded polystyrene?
  • Is the product/packaging sold in retail settings eg, supermarket, convenience store, party store? 

If the answer to both questions is yes, your product/packaging may be included in the ban. 

Alternatives  

Instead of using expanded polystyrene for food and beverage retail packaging, you can manufacture or supply: 

  • Recyclable plastic packaging such as PET (type 1) and PP (type 5) or
  • Fibre-based packaging that is ideally free from intentionally added PFAS.  

For example, retailers can provide PP noodle cups instead of expanded polystyrene cups.  

Plastics with pro-degradant additives 

Description of banned product

Plastic products with pro-degradant additives added to them (eg, oxo and photo degradable plastics). They are a subset of type 7 plastic.

These plastic items commonly (but not always) have pro-degradant additives:

  • bin liners  
  • pet waste bags  
  • litter tray liners
  • supermarket produce bags 
  • magazine wraps  
  • dry cleaning bags  
  • padded envelopes  
  • garment packaging. 

Pro-degradant additives cause products to fragment into smaller plastic pieces (microplastics) which remain in the environment for a long time. Plastics with pro-degradant additives can’t be composted or recycled in New Zealand. 

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to the ban on plastics with pro-degradant additives. 

Is your product banned?

  • Does the product or its packaging have one of these on it?
    • oxo degradable
    • photo degradable
    • landfill-degradable. 

If the answer is yes the plastic product may be included in the ban. 

Alternatives

Instead of products with pro-degradant additives, such as oxo and photo degradable plastics, you can supply or manufacture products made from:

  • PET plastic (type #1)
  • HDPE/LDPE/LLDPE plastic (type #2) – this is commonly used for different types of plastic bags
  • Polypropylene plastic (type #5)
  • Biodegradable or compostable plastic (subset of type #7) (refer to information below about ensuring your product is biodegradable or compostable)
  • Paper/fibre.

Note that while biodegradable and compostable plastics are not in-scope of the ban on plastics with pro-degradant additives, they are included in the bans on single-use items (drink stirrers and cotton buds) which apply to all plastic resin codes 1-7. This is because drink stirrers and cotton buds are single-use items that are not always necessary and there are easily available non-plastic alternatives.  

How to show your plastic product is biodegradable

Biodegradable products leave only three by-products after breaking down in a specified timeframe. These are: water, carbon dioxide/methane, and biomass. To comply with the regulations you must be able to show your product breaks down into these three by-products. 

You can achieve certification to show that your product composts, by using composting or anaerobic degradation standards.

To find out whether your product is biodegradable, you can use biodegradation tests which are specific components of the standards listed below. Note the list of standards is not exhaustive and is not an endorsement of any particular standard. 

We encourage businesses to test whether their products are compostable or biodegradable in the type of environment the product is likely to end up in. For example if your product is certified to an anaerobic degradation standard, you should consider whether the product is likely to end up in a controlled environment (as opposed to landfills, which are exposed to a range of variables and are not always optimal for degradation). 

Industrial compost certifications include:

  • AS 4736 – Australian seedling industrial composting 
  • EN 13432 – Seedling industrial composting 
  • EN 13432 – OK compost industrial composting 
  • EN 13432 – Din industrial 
  • ASTM D 6400 or 6868 – Biodegradable products institute/US composing council. 

Home compost certifications include:  

  • AS 5810 – Australian seedling home composting  
  • Variation of EN 13432 – OK compost home composting  
  • AS 5810 / NF T 51-800 – Din home.  

Anaerobic degradation standards include:

  • ASTMD5511 – Standard test method for determining anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditions.

See the Ministry position statement on compostable products for information on whether compostable packaging is a good solution for your product.

Identifying plastic types that are not banned

The plastic phase-outs are targeting hard-to-recycle plastics which are made from PVC (plastic type 3) and polystyrene (plastic type 6). These plastic types are challenging to recycle and have very limited recycling options available.

We are not phasing out plastic packaging made from plastic types 1, 2, 4 and 5 — unless they are captured by a single-use item ban such as cotton-buds or drink stirrers. Products made from plastic types 1, 2, 4 and 5 are available from packaging suppliers. These plastic types have some recycling options.

We are phasing out oxo and photo degradable plastics which are a small subset of plastic type 7. Other type 7 plastics are still available (eg, compostable and biodegradable plastics).

The illustration below shows the different types of plastic and how recyclable they are in Aotearoa New Zealand. Plastic types are usually identifiable by a small number inside an arrow triangle.

resin code fact sheet v3

Plastic resin identification code – quick reference guide

      Common products of each category
Easier to recycle      
  Plastic type 1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • water bottles
  • fizzy drink bottles
   Plastic type 2 High-density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • milk bottles
  • shampoo bottles
  • laundry detergent containers
Difficult to recycle      
   Plastic type 3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • vinyl
  • tubing/pipe
  • biscuit trays
  • commercial cling wrap
Possible to recycle      
  Plastic type 4

Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE)

  • soft plastic products
  • bread bags
  • squeeze bottles
  • plastic film
 Easier to recycle      
  Plastic type 5  Polypropylene (PP)
  •  most temperature resistant containers
  • takeaway containers
  • ice-cream tubs
Difficult to recycle      
  Plastic type 6 Polystyrene (PS) 
  • yoghurt pots (six-packs)
  • solo cups and CD cases
  • expanded polystyrene cups (eg, styrofoam)
  Plastic type 7 All other plastics
  • toys
  • compostable packaging (eg, Polyactic Acid)
  • sippy cups
  • CDs/DVDs and lenses
resin code fact sheet v3

Plastic resin identification code – quick reference guide

      Common products of each category
Easier to recycle      
  Plastic type 1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • water bottles
  • fizzy drink bottles
   Plastic type 2 High-density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • milk bottles
  • shampoo bottles
  • laundry detergent containers
Difficult to recycle      
   Plastic type 3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • vinyl
  • tubing/pipe
  • biscuit trays
  • commercial cling wrap
Possible to recycle      
  Plastic type 4

Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE)

  • soft plastic products
  • bread bags
  • squeeze bottles
  • plastic film
 Easier to recycle      
  Plastic type 5  Polypropylene (PP)
  •  most temperature resistant containers
  • takeaway containers
  • ice-cream tubs
Difficult to recycle      
  Plastic type 6 Polystyrene (PS) 
  • yoghurt pots (six-packs)
  • solo cups and CD cases
  • expanded polystyrene cups (eg, styrofoam)
  Plastic type 7 All other plastics
  • toys
  • compostable packaging (eg, Polyactic Acid)
  • sippy cups
  • CDs/DVDs and lenses

Steps to take if you currently sell or manufacture a banned product

Step 1: Stop providing these containers to your customers

  • Stop ordering the banned products now. 

Step 2: Order alternatives

  • Order alternatives as soon as possible (see alternatives under each of the banned product). You can find a list of plastics manufacturers on the Plastics NZ website.   
  • If you manufacture a banned product, consider the alternative materials you could use instead eg, manufacturing PET food trays (plastic type 1) instead of PVC food trays.  
  • See Choosing alternative products for more factors to consider. 

Step 3: What to do with excess stock options

We realise the bans may mean some businesses have excess stock leftover following 1 October 2022.  

  • Do not stockpile unused products as you are no longer permitted to sell or provide them for free to customers). 
  • Enquire if excess stock can be recycled – this depends on the type of plastic and its use. Contact your supplier and local recyclers. See a list of New Zealand recyclers on the Plastics NZ website. However, many of the products being banned have very limited recycling options available in Aotearoa.
  • If your product contains food, you can separate out the food for composting and send the packaging to local recyclers. 

Step 5: Educate your staff

  • Tell staff about the changes and how your business is going to avoid or replace the banned product. 
  • Train staff to communicate the change to your customers. 
  • For help with talking to your staff about the changes, see Talking Points.  

Step 6: Inform your customers

  • Help your customers to transition by communicating the change early. 
  • Remind customers that the bans have been introduced by the Government and are being applied to all businesses and are not optional. 
  • For help with talking to your customers about the changes, see Talking Points. 

What happens if you don’t comply

The Ministry encourages voluntary compliance and expects that all businesses will be taking necessary steps toward ensuring they comply with the regulations. 

We will use discretion when responding to any breaches of the regulations. We can respond to non-compliance in various ways ranging from education, providing verbal and written warnings through to prosecution.   

In the first instance our preference is to take an educational approach and to offer advice to help businesses understand their responsibilities. The way we work is guided by our Compliance, monitoring and enforcement strategy.  

The Ministry will take enforcement action where appropriate, particularly where systemic or ongoing non-compliance occurs. The Waste Minimisation Act allows for fines of up to $100,000 to be issued when parties deliberately contravene regulations under the Act. Any fines will be proportionate to the offence and all prosecution decisions are made subject to our Prosecutions policy and Enforcement decision making policy

Choosing alternative products

The following questions are designed to help you make better decisions when choosing alternatives to a product that is banned from 1 October 2022.  

Production process 

Understanding how the product is made means you can choose a product that uses fewer resources and produces less greenhouse gas emissions.  

  • How is the product produced? 
  • What resources are required for their production, including raw material inputs and resources required to support the product process? 
  • Is the product certified to particular standards (eg, carbon neutral, compostable) to improve the transparency around how the product is made?  

Production location 

Understanding where the product is made allows you to consider greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing products made in Aotearoa reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transport and helps to support the local economy. 

  • Where is the product produced?  
  • Who makes the product? 

Product materials 

Understanding what the product is made from means you can choose a product that is made with more easily reprocessed and/or more sustainable materials. 

  • Is it just one material or a blend of materials? 
    • Products made from a blend of materials or with components made of different materials can be harder to process at the end of their functional life, meaning they may end up in the landfill. The fewer material types in a product the better.  
  • Are there inks, dyes or other additives used? 
    • Look for inks, dyes or additives that are not petroleum-based. Look for materials that do not use per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) substances. 
  • If the product is made from paper, is the paper bleached or un-bleached? 
    • Unbleached paper does not require as many chemicals as bleached paper. It is also more suitable for composting or recycling. 
  • Is the product made from a compostable material?

Reusability 

Choosing products that are reusable means that you can purchase less and save resources (eg, plastic drink stirrers can be replaced with metal stirrers such as spoons). 

  • Can the product be reused many times for the same purpose? 
  • How many times can the product be reused safely before it begins to degrade? 
  • Has the manufacturer tested its durability? 

Recyclability 

Understanding if the product is recyclable or not means that you can choose a product that can be reprocessed into another product rather than being sent to landfill.  

  • Can the product be recycled in Aotearoa? 
    • Plastic types 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE) and 5 (PP) are generally recyclable in Aotearoa, if the product is a single material, clean and gets collected or dropped off to a recycling facility.  
  • Where can the product be recycled?  
    • Different areas in Aotearoa accept different plastics for recycling. Contact your local council to find out whether your product can be recycled or not in your area. The Ministry recently consulted on proposals to improve recycling in Aotearoa, including standardising the materials accepted in kerbside recycling. 
    • If the product can’t be recycled, what should the customer do with the product when disposing of it? 
  • Can you communicate with the customer about what they should do with the product at the end of its life either through labelling or signage? 

Recycled content 

Products that have recycled content are less resource-intensive to produce than products with no recycled content.  

  • Does the product include recycled content? 
  • If so, how much and where from? 

Product performance 

Understanding how the product performs for your purposes is important to deliver the best outcomes for you and your customers. 

  • Is the product leak proof? 
  • Can the product withstand high temperatures? 
  • Is the product durable?  
  • Can contamination easily be separated out from the product? 

Talking to your staff about the bans

About the new regulations – from 1 October 2022

The Government is introducing new regulations to ban some hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic products being sold or manufactured in Aotearoa.

From 1 October 2022 the following products are not able to be sold or manufactured in Aotearoa:

  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers
  • Single-use plastic cotton buds
  • Oxo and photo degradable plastic products
  • Certain PVC pre-formed food trays and containers
  • Polystyrene takeaway packaging
  • All expanded polystyrene food and drink packaging.

There are exemptions for plastic cotton buds to ensure they can still be used for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.

Issues with single-use plastic products (eg, drink stirrers, cotton buds)

  • Single-use plastic products are often littered and can overflow from bins into waterways.
  • Plastics never fully break down. They just turn into smaller plastic pieces which can enter our waterways and even enter our food chain.
  • Plastic litter can negatively impact sea life such as seabirds and turtles who may mistake litter for food or be entangled in litter.

Issues with hard-to-recycle plastic products (eg, oxo and photo degradable products, PVC food trays and containers, and polystyrene packaging)

  • These plastic products can’t be recycled in Aotearoa, and they can contaminate recycling and composting streams. This causes inefficiency in our systems and reduces the quality and quantity of material recycled.

Impacts for staff

Explain and show the alternative products you will be providing/stocking for example:

  • Instead of a plastic drink stirrer, staff could use a metal spoon to stir drinks.
  • Instead of polystyrene takeaway packaging, staff could pack food in the customer’s own container or in a PET or fibre single-use takeaway container.
  • Instead of a PVC food tray, staff could package food in a PET tray.

Find out more

See the tranche 1 regulations 

If you have questions contact the plastic phase-out team at plastics@mfe.govt.nz.

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