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Put Plastic Blame Where It Belongs - Greenpeace

Greenpeace is delighted to see the Government starting to put the burden of some of plastic pollution back where it belongs - with the companies that make and sell plastic.

Today Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced regulated product stewardship schemes for six harmful products.

Plastic packaging is top of the list.

"That’s great," says Greenpeace plastics campaigner Phil Vine, "but we need to go further and faster if we are going to stop our land and oceans turning into one big plastic rubbish dump."

Greenpeace says for too long the companies that make plastic and other harmful products have washed their hands of responsibility for what happens to them after they leave the factory.

"For decades now manufacturers of these products have put the blame on ordinary people, urging us to recycle away their problem. With plastic, that has been proven not to work. Only nine per cent of the world’s plastic has ever been recycled."

Greenpeace is disappointed the new scheme doesn’t tackle one of the country’s biggest plastic pollution problems - single-use drinks bottles.

An estimated one billion plastic drinks bottles are sold to New Zealanders every year.

Huge quantities find their way into landfill and the oceans.

Earlier this year a Toroa (Albatross) was discovered on a Napier beach with an entire 500ml drinks bottle in its stomach. Greenpeace video here

There are no on-shore facilities to recycle used bottles into new ones, so hundreds of millions more have to be manufactured to replace them.

Greenpeace NZ started a campaign to ban plastic drinks bottles two months ago. There are more than 35,000 signatures on the petition.

Farm plastics, number six on the list, are a growing problem. Just recently, rafting guides pulled half a tonne of hay bale wrapping out of the Buller River.

The Government has announced possible funding for plastic recycling plants, but Greenpeace is urging them to look instead at refilling and reusing plants, that will halt the flow of plastic into the environment.

A container return scheme including plastic bottles, is due to be announced later in the year.

"Re-useable bottles with a deposit scheme, and plants to wash and redistribute them based in the regions would be an excellent way to turn off the plastic tap and provide green jobs," says Vine.

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