Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


SMC: Plastics: what breaks down?

Plastics: what breaks down?
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has tasked the Government with clearing up the confusion around environmentally friendly plastics.

Biodegradable, degradable, compostable - it's a minefield when it comes to understanding how long plastics stick around in the environment, so the PCE has created an online resource to help clear things up.

In doing so, Commissioner Simon Upton urged the Government to take the lead in lifting consumer and business understanding about claims of biodegradability of plastics.
The issue was complex because the impact of plastic on the environment depended on what it was made from and how it was disposed, Upton told RNZ's Nine to Noon.
"One can't simply toss these products onto the compost heap, or into our recycling bins, and go away thinking 'job done'."

Waste Management Institute New Zealand chief executive Paul Evans told the NZ Herald there was "significant confusion" about terminology.
"At the moment there are a plethora of standards and manufacturers are creating their own labels, which only adds to the confusion."

Plastic disposal and plastic bags have made frequent headlines recently, from Stuff's Bags Not campaign to speculation the Government may ban single use plastic bags.

The Science Media Centre gathered expert commentary on what steps consumers can take while we await clearer guidance.

Quoted: RNZ
"It’s coming back to habitat that would have been used by its ancestors. It hasn’t got lost – it’s really checking out new areas for this expanding population."
University of Otago marine biologist Dr Will Rayment
on why the southern right whale showed up in Wellington Harbour.

New Climate Change Coalition
Chief executives from 60 businesses in the private sector have committed to climate change action.
The pledge outlines three key commitments:
• measuring and reporting on emissions,
• setting a target aligned to staying within 2C of warming,
• working with suppliers to reduce emissions.
These businesses cover sectors including tourism, farming, transport, food and retail and are said to represent half of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Z chief executive Mike Bennetts told The Spinoff each company will work to its own reporting standards, but he expected many would do it at least as a voluntary add-on in their annual reports - which are a legal requirement.

Antarctic researcher Professor Tim Naish said while the announcement was encouraging, good intentions must translate to action.

Professor James Renwick wrote: "Combined with the recent announcement from the Farming Leaders Group that the agriculture sector is committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050, there’s a real sense that attitudes across the business sector are changing."

The SMC gathered expert commentary on the announcement.

Thai kids face long recovery
The prodigious rescue of the 12 Thai football players and their coach may be complete, but their ordeal is far from over.

Details have begun to emerge about the physical health of the 12 boys and their coach following their harrowing ordeal in the Tham Luang cave - and so far it appears they have escaped life-threatening injury or infection.

But the mental toll the ordeal has had may last the rest of their lives, psychologists have said. Wellington psychologist Karen Nimmo said the boys were likely to grapple with varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as they reintegrate into their homes and families.

Through the Science Media Centre, Massey University psychologist Associate Professor Sarb Johal provided valuable insight on what the boys might have been feeling while they were trapped in the cave, which included feelings of helplessness, fear and heightened emotions. His comments were also picked up internationally, and he featured on Australian television saying the boys' morale during the ordeal was heartening.

He later said the boys may have increased risk of anxiety, depression and even substance abuse due to their traumatic experience, but said the strong support they have had from the rescue teams and family will help.

Policy news & developments

Mangere redevelopment: An ambitious programme will see 10,000 new homes built for families from all walks of life, Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced.

Hydrogen fuel infrastructure: A grant of $950,000 will be made to Hiringa Energy and its partners which is seeking to develop zero emission hydrogen transport fuel.

M. bovis milk testing: A second round of nationwide milk testing will be carried out by MPI, to test for the presence of Mycoplasma bovis.

Track closures possible: To prevent the spread of Kauri dieback, DOC is considering the closure of 34 North Island walking tracks.

Bowel screening programme expands: Counties Manukau has rolled out free bowel screening as part of the National Bowel Screening Programme.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Tax Bill Passes, Drops: “An End To Unnecessary Secondary Tax”

“The changes mean Inland Revenue will more closely monitor the tax paid by wage and salary earners through the year. If it appears the worker is being over taxed, Inland Revenue will suggest a more suitable PAYE tax code tailored to that worker.” More>>


Ethiopian Airline Crash: Boeing 737 Max Aircraft Operations Temporarily Suspended

New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to or from New Zealand. Currently this affects only one operator, Fiji Airways. There are no other airlines that fly this aircraft type to New Zealand. More>>


Sorting Out DNA: Crime-Busting Software Wins Top Science Prize

Software developed in New Zealand that has contributed to identifying suspects in tens of thousands of criminal cases around the world has won the 2018 Prime Minister’s $500,000 Science Prize. More>>


In The High Court: IRD Wins Tax Avoidance Case

Inland Revenue has won a High Court case against Eric Watson’s Cullen Group over a nearly $52 million tax debt. More>>


Insurers Withdraw From Market: Plea For EQC Rethink

A consumer watchdog wants the government to rethink the Earthquake Commission (EQC) as more people are pushed out of getting property and contents insurance. More>>


Women's Day: New Zealand Rated Third Best In OECD For Working Women

New Zealand has been rated among the top countries in the world for working women. The Women in Work Index rated New Zealand third in the OECD and it was the only country outside Europe to make the top 10. More>>