Plastics Industry Sustainability Initiative
THURSDAY 27 February 2003
New Zealand Plastics Industry releases Sustainability Initiative
The New Zealand plastic industry today announced the release of a New Zealand Plastics Sustainability Initiative. 51plastic companies including major players ACI Plastics Packaging NZ, Alto Plastics Ltd, Huhtamaki New Zealand, Iplex Pipelines NZ Ltd, Marley New Zealand Ltd, Vertex Pacific Ltd, and Viscount Plastics (NZ) Ltd have committed to the Initiative.
The purpose of Plastics New Zealand Incorporated, representing the industry, is to maximise the growth and success of Plastics based technology in New Zealand in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner. Members believe they have a very strong social responsibility to see that the products they produce are designed, manufactured, used, re-used, re-cycled and disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way, as plastic products progressively become back-bone products in every major consumer and industrial application.
The initiative is a culmination of over ten year’s work by the sector on environmental issues. The sector in partnership with its customers and the people who deal with plastic waste will work towards achieving Initiative targets over the next five years. The first task is to set a New Zealand plastic packaging recycling target.
Carolyn Cox, Environmental Affairs Manager for Plastics New Zealand says ‘The plastics industry has already invested a huge amount of resources into training, energy efficiency, product labelling, waste minimisation, technology and product development. The Sustainability Initiative means we will now take our environmental performance to the next level by working more closely with those outside the industry.’
Nearly 50% of New Zealand plastic production is packaging; the rest serves the construction, agricultural and house ware sectors. The Initiative aims to foster practical projects in partnership with these sectors. Ensuring that purchasing decisions made by these sectors support the plastics industry’s Sustainability Initiative will be critical to its success.
There are over 400 plastic businesses in New Zealand employing 8,076 people. The sector has an annual turnover of $1.8 billion, with direct exports climbing dramatically from $80 million in 1990 to $335 million today. Annual plastic production has now reached 236,000 tonnes, with 75% of this being used within New Zealand. New Zealanders currently consume 31kg of plastic a year and recycle 5.58kg (MfE, 2002). Over 50,000 tonnes of plastic has been saved over the past ten years due to reductions in the thickness of products with finer gauge bags and bottles through improved technology (PNZ, 2002). Over 29,000 tonnes of plastic were collecting for recycling in 2001. Most is reused within New Zealand with the exception of PET soft drink bottles, most of which are exported overseas for conversion to polyester fibre.