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Packaging Industry Body Welcomes Hard To Recycle Plastic Phase-out, With Caution

The Packaging Forum welcomes Government’s latest move to phase-out difficult to recycle and unnecessary plastic packaging.

However, the Forum’s Independent Chair Rob Langford cautions that great care must be taken to avoid any unintended consequences caused by producers and retailers moving to other packaging types such as a mass shift to compostable packaging without standards, labelling and end-of-life solutions being in place.

The Forum was reacting to the announcement by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage today (12 August) that consultation would begin on the phase-out of a number of plastic products, such as straws, PVC food and beverage packaging, plastic tableware, and plastic cotton-buds among others.

Consultation would run until 4 November 2020.

“It’s good to see there is a long consultation period for this and we’ll certainly be part of the conversation on behalf of our members,” Rob says. The Packaging Forum, with more than 200 members, is New Zealand’s biggest member-based organisation representing the depth and breadth of the packaging industry.

While compostable packaging can be viewed by the public as something of a ‘silver bullet’, Rob warns there are also challenges with it. “For manufacturers, there is no defined use-case for compostable packaging.

“There is no New Zealand standard as required by the organic certified composters and few commercial composters which will accept it due to contamination, and there are varying requirements for home compostability. This makes it difficult for consumers to identify how to dispose of it at end of life.”

To assist members, the Forum has a compostable packaging and a fibre-based packaging technical advisory group which is investigating solutions for these challenges to remove the barriers for compostable packaging across the supply chain, Rob says.

“We welcome the opportunity to submit during the consultation period. Our members will be able to offer their knowledge and know-how to help ensure we have the best possible outcome.”
 

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