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Govt takes vital step towards plastic pollution solution

Friday 9 August - Greenpeace is praising a Government proposal to prioritise products such as beverage containers and plastic packaging in a new waste minimisation strategy.

This morning, Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage, released a public consultation document titled, "Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines".

In the release, Sage stated: "Regulated product stewardship helps put the responsibility for effective material and waste management on product manufacturers, importers, retailers and users, rather than on communities, councils, neighbourhoods and nature."

Greenpeace senior campaigner, Steve Abel, is heralding the proposal as a vital step towards proven systems like container deposit scheme (CDS), which could see 90% of beverage bottles diverted from landfill and kept off the streets and out of our oceans.

"This is a great step in the right direction and we will be calling on the public to make submissions in support of the Government’s plans to deal with some of our most persistent and pernicious waste products," he says.

While supportive of the proposal, Abel is also calling for the addition of a handful of "nasty" disposable products that regularly show up on New Zealand’s beaches, including plastic straws, cutlery, stirrers and balloons.

"Once prioritised under the Waste Minimisation Act, these single-use menaces could be banned outright, as we’ve seen happen in the European Union," he says.

Visceral footage of a turtle having a plastic straw extricated from its nostril went viral last year, prompting worldwide calls for the elimination of plastic straws.

"Many single-use plastic items are used for only a few moments before being trashed, and if they escape into our environment they persist for decades and cause misery to animals which can ingest or become entangled in them," Abel says.

"Images of vast gyres of plastic waste at sea have awoken the world to the insanity of disposable plastics, and people are rightly demanding that governments take strong action to deal with this culture of waste. It's great to see Associate Minister Sage stepping up to the challenge."

Greenpeace is also calling for fishing nets and gear to be prioritised, on the back of studies which show over half of oceanic plastic waste is associated with the fishing industry.


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