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Packaging Accord signing has strong support

10 August 2004 Media Statement

Packaging Accord signing has strong support

Manufacturers representing 85 per cent of New Zealand’s packaging production have committed to a new partnership to reduce packaging waste, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

Speaking at the signing of the five-year New Zealand Packaging Accord 2004, Marian Hobbs said the commitment to the voluntary accord by more than 200 organisations showed industry was listening to peoples’ concerns about waste.

As well as packaging manufacturers, the accord has the support of 80 per cent of supermarket business through Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises; major brand owners such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola; and retailers such as The Warehouse.

The accord has been developed over the past two years by the Ministry for the Environment and the Packaging Council of New Zealand (PAC.NZ), with support from Recycling Operators of New Zealand (RONZ) and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).

Key packaging sectors involved are steel, plastic, aluminium, glass and paper, as well as brand owners and retailers.

“This is a great example of industry and government collaborating to address issues of concern,” said Marian Hobbs. “New Zealanders throw away about 83 kilograms each of used packaging a year. Accord parties recognise something can be done to reduce this.”

The accord has been developed in accordance with the New Zealand Waste Strategy, developed by the Ministry for the Environment in partnership with Local Government New Zealand.

A key principle is “extended producer responsibility” which sees the originator of packaging taking more responsibility for its complete lifecycle.

This means when producers and brand owners develop new packaging they will give higher regard to factors including using less materials and using recycled rather than virgin materials. They will also look at production efficiency, and the potential for recycling into other products after the packaging is no longer needed.

Efforts by consumers to reduce waste and recycle more should be made easier by producers and brand owners bringing more sustainable packaging to the market.

The accord contains nine sector action plans with targets to measure progress by the key parties. Reports will be publicly available each year.

Leading organisations which provided input include 3M New Zealand, ACI Glass, Carter Holt Harvey, Fisher and Paykel Appliances, Griffins Foods, Lion Nathan, Amcor and Visy, New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, New Zealand Retailers Association, Plastics New Zealand, Steel Can Association and the New Zealand Paperboard Packaging Association.

Packaging Council president Brian Slingsby said packaging plays a vital role in ensuring the quality, health and safety of goods. But industry acknowledged poorly designed packaging places unnecessary disposal burdens on consumers, local authorities and the environment.

Mr Slingsby said industry was determined to meet the accord’s targets for the recovery of packaging materials. By 2008 it aimed to recover, by weight, 65 per cent of aluminium packaging consumed 55 per cent of glass, 70 per cent of paper, 43 per cent of steel and 23 per cent of plastic.

“In addition brand owners and retailers are working to reduce plastic shopping bag use, an area where everyone can help by not taking check-out bags unless really needed.”

Consumers can also choose products that are recyclable and use less packaging, and to recycle wherever possible.

“The packaged goods industry is proud to take a lead in waste reduction and with our consumers’ help we can make a real difference,” Mr Slingsby said.

Photographs of today’s accord signing ceremony can be downloaded for free after midday today from www.epixs.co.nz

For more information visit:
www.mfe.govt.nz
www.packaging.org.nz

New Zealand Packaging Accord 2004

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a Packaging Accord?

Packaging contributes hugely to New Zealand’s economy and is often vital to the quality, health and safety of the goods it contains. It stops perishables going off and makes products recognisable to shoppers. It is also an important marketing element for brand owners and retailers.

However, packaging waste is a concern for New Zealanders. Each year discarded packaging makes up about one-eighth of the waste that ends up in our landfills.

Unnecessary and poorly designed packaging wastes resources when it is produced and takes up precious landfill space when it is thrown away.

The accord’s focus on improving packaging efficiency at all stages from design, production and potential re-use is one step toward maintaining the clean, green environment New Zealanders want.

Who is responsible for the accord?

The accord has been negotiated over the past two years by the Ministry for the Environment and the Packaging Council of New Zealand (PAC NZ), with the support of Local Government New Zealand and the Recycling Operators of New Zealand (RONZ).

It will be signed on 10 August 2004 by the Minister for the Environment, PAC NZ, Local Government New Zealand and RONZ; as well as representatives from the key packaging sectors of paper, plastic, glass, steel, aluminium, brand owners and retailers.

What are accord signatories promising to do?

Reduce the proportion of packaging that ends up in landfills by making improvements at all stages of the packaging life cycle.

What is extended producer responsibility and why is it important?

The accord works on the principle of voluntary extended producer responsibility. This commits producers to consider packaging implications from the initial need, design and production; and eventual recycling or disposal.

Previously, packaging producers were only responsible for design and production, with individuals and local authorities playing the biggest part in how much domestic packaging is collected for recycling or ends up in our landfills.

Why doesn’t the Government legislate to reduce packaging waste?

The Government is confident there is strong industry commitment to increasing the sustainability of packaging. A voluntary accord is likely to be more cost-effective for business than legislation.

More than 200 organisations are represented by the accord including: brand owners, retailers/importers and packaging manufacturers; local authorities throughout New Zealand; and recycling operators.

The government has made it clear, and industry understands, regulation will be considered if the accord is not making sufficient progress.

How will the accord reduce packaging waste?

Sector plans have been developed by the accord’s main parties and the key packaging sectors. The plans outlines the steps each sector will take – individually and together – over the next five years to reduce waste and increase the amount of packaging that can be recycled.

Joint targets include recovering a specified percentage of the five main packaging materials – 70 per cent of paper, 23 per cent of plastics, 65 per cent of aluminium, 43 per cent of steel and 55 per cent of glass – by weight of consumption.

The plans also cover informing the public about their part in reducing packaging waste.

Why is the packaging lifecycle important?

Gains can be made at all stages of the packaging lifecycle. It begins with design and production, where producers consider the need for packaging, the raw materials used (whether these can be recycled or not) and energy efficiencies in production.

Goods are then put inside the packaging; the consumer buys the goods, takes them home, and decides whether to throw out the packaging or to send it for recycling. If it is recycled for other uses, the packaging lifecycle continues with less waste.

Which organisations have committed to the accord?

Each sector action plan lists the organisations which have committed to the accord, as at July 2004. More are expected to get involved during the accord’s five years.

Sector action plans are available on www.mfe.govt.nz or www.packaging.org.nz.
How will we know the accord is making a difference?

Sector action plans include national targets for recovering packaging waste, and annual reporting available to the public.
The sector action plans report against the accord’s eight measures of progress:

- Mass balance data (weights of packaging materials consumed and recycled)
- Trends of annual estimated per person packaging waste to landfill (or other disposal methods)
- Packaging design and procurement
- Development of sustainable markets for reused and recycled packaging materials
- Programmes to achieve national targets (including plastic shopping bag reduction target)
- Consumer information and involvement
- Accord promotion
- In-house waste reduction and resource recovery

Baseline measures will be established in the first two years, with measurable improvements expected in years three to five.

Progress reports will be available on Ministry for the Environment and PAC NZ’s websites: www.mfe.govt.nz and www.packaging.org.nz

ENDS

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