Plastic products banned from 1 October 2022 (tranche 1)

  • PVC food trays and containers* (plastic type #3) 
  • Polystyrene takeaway food and drink packaging (plastic type #6) 
  • Expanded polystyrene food and drink packaging (plastic type #6) 
  • Plastic with pro-degradant additives, eg oxo and photo degradable plastics (subset of plastic type #7) 
  • Plastic drink stirrers (all plastic types)
  • Plastic stemmed cotton buds (all plastic types)

*The scope is limited to pre-formed trays used for produce, baked goods and meat.

 

To be phased out by mid-2023 (tranche 2)

Single-use

  • Plastic produce bags
  • Plastic plates, bowls and cutlery
  • Plastic straws*
  • Plastic produce labels**

*Plastic straws will be available for disabled people and medical use

** See this website for further information on scope.

To be phased out by mid-2025 (tranche 3)

  • All other PVC and polystyrene food and drink packaging

Why we are phasing out these plastics

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. 

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 a wider ambition to move Aotearoa New Zealand towards a low-emissions, low-waste economy.

Phase-out decisions follow public consultation

The Government consulted publicly on its phase-out proposals in 2020. This was part of a broader response to the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand report released by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor in 2019.

We received close to 8,000 submissions during the consultation. Most were in support of the proposals. There was a good level of response from the general public, affected businesses, environmental and community groups, and local government agencies.

Read the summary of submissions we received

Read the individual submissions we received

Read a summary of the proposals we consulted on 

Read Rethinking plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand

About the timing of the phase-outs

Items that are easier to replace are to be phased out sooner than those that are more challenging to replace. This approach is to strike a balance between the public feedback for fast action and providing businesses with adequate time to prepare.

Providing information now on the dates for the phase-outs allows time for businesses and the public to adjust (eg, use up old stock, make changes to product lines and find suitable alternatives).

Alternatives to items being phased out

Practical alternatives are readily available for some of the items and plastic types proposed for phase-out. Many businesses and individuals have already made changes. Alternatives may include reusable items (eg, metal spoons or reusable containers), non-plastic alternatives or easier to recycle plastics (such as types 1, 2 and 5) — see the section below on identifying plastic types that are not banned.

We will work with the industry and business sectors to provide further guidance before implementation of the phase-outs.

Compostable and bio-based plastic alternatives

Bio-based and compostable plastics have emerged as alternatives to some traditional plastics. Compostable alternatives often require processing in a commercial composting facility to break down. These are not available everywhere in Aotearoa New Zealand. In general, bio-based plastics behave in a similar way to conventional plastics and will not degrade in the same way as their original source material. If these plastics become litter they can harm wildlife in the same way as conventional fossil fuel plastic products.

The phase-out of drink stirrers, plastic-stemmed cotton-buds, plastic produce bags, plastic plates, bowls and cutlery and plastic straws extends to all types of plastic including compostable and bio-based plastics.

We encourage businesses who are looking for alternatives to the hard-to-recycle plastics, which are subject to the phase-outs, to consider reusable or recyclable alternatives in the first instance.

Read the Ministry’s position statement on compostable products

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

Next steps

They include:

  • drafting regulations under the Waste Minimisation Act for the 2023 phase-outs (tranche 2)
  • working with sector experts to develop a plan for expanded polystyrene, single-use cups (including coffee cups) and wet wipes, with next steps for these to be agreed in 2022.

Find out more

Tranche 1

Tranche 2 and 3

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

Further information