Have your say to reduce plastic waste

Have your say to reduce plastic waste

The Ministry for the Environment has released a consultation document which aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste in New Zealand. It has two proposals –

  1. The phasing out of hard to recycle plastic – types 3,6,7 which includes some pvc, polystyrene and all oxo-degradable plastic bags and
  2. the phasing out of seven single use plastic items – straws, cotton buds, drink stirrers, tableware, produce bags, cups & lids and non-compostable produce stickers.

Did you know?

  • New Zealanders dispose of an estimated 159 grams of plastic waste per person each day!! By comparison, Norway averages 26 grams of plastic waste per capita per day, Denmark 35 grams, Canada 58 grams, Australia 117 grams, Ireland 199 grams, the UK 266 grams and the United States 286 grams. * Australia is doing better than us – come on people!
  • Globally, around 36% of the plastic produced is packaging and single-use plastic items. *

How and why you should make a submission

I know we often feel powerless about environmental issues. We all do our bit by reducing plastic consumption yet the ocean is still filling up with plastic waste. Making a submission is how we can have our say. This is a good proposal. Even if you just select ‘yes’ and agree to each point it shows that we do care about the amount of plastic waste that’s generated each day and there is support for banning single use plastic items and hard to recycle plastic.

The submission form is here. Submissions can be made until December 4th.

The Zero Waste Network has some good info and a submission form you can use – they have filled in most of the submission fields which you can change or leave as it.

My thoughts

I mostly agree with the proposal which is very ambitious but it doesn’t go far enough to encourage the new hierarchy which I think is great –

rethink, refuse, replace, reduce, reuse, recycle

Proposal 1 is to phase out the use of hard to recycle plastic. I agree with their choice of plastic types to phase out. They are looking at six options and their preferred option is a ban. I don’t agree with this – I think a blended approach would be better. It could include labelling an item (can it be recycled?) and introducing mandatory recycled content for example. If just using a ban of plastic 3, 6 and 7, those items could be changed to the remaining plastic still in use. That type of plastic (1, 2 & 5) is easier to recycle but recycle is meant to be last in the waste hierarchy, not first.

It’s the same for proposal 2 if just a ban were implemented. These are single use plastic items such as tableware. Companies could change from plastic to paper or bamboo which is still creating waste or is ‘recycle’ rather than any of the first options. Just a ban doesn’t encourage other options such as re-usable crockery and cups.

Another thing I want to point out is that the list of single use items doesn’t include disposable coffee cups or wet wipes containing plastic. These are being looked at for further consultation but I think they should be included now. It’s estimated that NZ uses 295 million disposable cups each year which includes coffee cups. *  That’s just ridiculous!! That’s 59 each per year. Are you using that much? Some-one is. These can’t be recycled due to the mix of paper and plastic. Did you know most wet wipes have plastic in them? I personally don’t use them but if you do, make sure you buy those without plastic and please please don’t flush them.

So again, make sure you have your say by making a submission. You have until December 4th.

* taken from the MfE website

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