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Aotearoa New Zealand Organisations Join Global Call For An End To Single Use Products

Aotearoa New Zealand Organisations join Global Call for an end to Single Use Products, as the United Nations Environment Assembly gets set to discuss sustainability

Make “throwaway go away” if you care about the planet, groups say

As government representatives from 193 member states prepare to discuss “Strengthening Actions for Nature”[1], 188 environmental groups from around the world – including four from Aotearoa New Zealand – are calling on them to change the systems that support production of polluting single-use products.

The environmental groups today issued a joint position paper “From Single Use to Systems Change”, to highlight the massive impact that disposable products are having on the natural environment, wildlife, human health, and vulnerable communities.

Single use products, from packaging to food containers, to disposable cups and cutlery, are a key contributor to the 2 billion tonnes of waste that humans produce every year. That number is projected to increase 70% by 2050.

“We’re depleting the very life support systems that we all need to survive, simply for the supposed convenience of single-use products,” said Tamara Stark, Campaigns Director of Canopy, one of the authoring organizations of the joint position paper. “Doing away with disposables will not only reduce waste but help address climate change, protect forests, and stop microplastics from poisoning marine life.”

The paper points to specific actions to be taken by governments, business leaders, financial institutions and investors, in order to transform production systems, reduce the overall use of raw materials and consumption, and spur innovation. Whilst actions by individuals also play a part, the NGOs say that more responsibility resides with decision-makers and those designing and approving the systems themselves.

“Too often, it is the most vulnerable people in our societies that bear the brunt of these polluting products – which contaminate local food supplies, clog landfills, and poison water and soil with toxic chemicals,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the global Break Free From Plastic movement. “It’s high time that we make corporations and industries that are driving global pollution and the climate crisis accountable for their actions. We need to see radical change in how products are delivered to people, without the use of harmful and polluting packaging.“

“Paper versus plastic has always been a false choice. From the perspective of paper it means more forests logged, destruction of our best defense against climate change, and more pollution for the frontline communities where paper mills are sited,” said Scot Quaranda, Communications Director for Dogwood Alliance. “After watching our environmental safeguards decimated over the last several years in the U.S., it is high time we and other industrialized nations take the lead on shifting to more sustainable production methods and products.”

The Environmental Paper Network is another key advocate for a shift away from single use products and systems, and have this week launched the new website SolvingPackaging.org to help companies, lawmakers, advocates, and individuals ditch disposables and embrace sustainable packaging solutions.

In New Zealand, the Government has started taking small steps to address the impacts of single-use products – from proposing to ban some single-use plastics to setting up a plastics innovation fund.

The independent Climate Change Commission’s recently released draft advice may also change how we manage single-use products. The Commission recommends New Zealand reduces organic waste to landfill, which includes products with a paper and cardboard content. Many single-use products contain paper and cardboard, like single use cups, containers and food packaging.

“The Government’s actions are a good start, but we can’t stop at banning particular materials – we need to tackle the source of the issue, which is our reliance on single-use throwaway products and systems. We have to change how we do things in our economy, and give a big boost to circular systems based around reuse and zero waste," says Chair of Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance, Liam Prince.

The joint paper From Single Use to Systems Change can be found here: https://canopyplanet.org/single-use-to-systems-change/

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