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Call for government to ban plastic drink bottles

Greenpeace is calling on the government to make New Zealand the first country in the world to ban plastic drink bottles.

Photo: 123rf

Greenpeace estimates New Zealand produces close to 1 billion single-use plastic bottles every year.

The environmental activism group launched its Ban the Bottle campaign this morning, which spokesperson Holly Dove said was the next logical step after the country outlawed banning single-use plastic bags.

Dove said a failing recycling and waste system meant a high proportion of this plastic waste finds its way into landfills and the sea.

"Single-use plastic is choking our wildlife, 90 percent of New Zealand seabirds have eaten plastic and birds like Toroa, Royal Albatross, are plucking it out of the ocean and feeding it to their young."

Single use plastics did not decompose but break down into smaller and smaller bits - micro-plastics - which were showing up in fish, Dove said.

"New Zealanders love the coastlines; trips to the beach, our sea life, and kai moana. It's part of our way of life, and plastic pollution threatens that."

Drinks companies continued to push the message that we could recycle our way out of our tidal wave of plastic waste, Dove said.

"The truth is we can't. The only real solution is to design waste out of the system, and cut the amount of plastic that we are producing.

"The coalition government made a great start with banning single-use plastic bags last year, but the job's not done. We need them to make sure that these companies stop bottling their products in single-use plastics, and start producing alternative options for their customers."

Dove said wine and alcohol was already sold in glass bottles and there was no reason why other beverage manufacturers could not do the same.

She said New Zealand was about to get a container return scheme, where you get some cash back for returned bottles, and it would be possible to set up refill, washing systems in regional areas, which would also provide employment.

"I think what we're trying to do is fix the problem that the drink manufacturing companies have created for themselves, so they need to be able to find ways to get their beverages to people that isn't going to cost the planet or cost human health."

Dove said recycling had been tried for the last 40 years but it was not enough.

Only about 9 percent of plastic globally was currently being recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills, in the ocean or being shipped to countries like Malaysia where it was incinerated which was detrimental to people's health, she said.

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