Ban on single-use plastics a step towards a circular economy

By Kate Haselhoff

Plastic is one of our greatest environmental challenges. It regularly ends up as waste in our landfills, our moana and whenua. That’s why the Sustainable Business Network welcomes the Government announcement to phase out some hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics.

On 27 June the New Zealand Government announced it would ban a raft of single-use plastics by 2025. This includes plates, bags, cotton buds, drinking straws, fruit labels and some polystyrene products. The items will be phased out between late 2022 and July 2025. You can find the detailed list of items here.

The hard-to-recycle packaging and products can interfere with our recycling systems and are often used only once before being disposed.

Shifting away from hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics will help reduce plastic waste, improve our recycling systems and protect our environment. This shift is part of a wider ambition to move Aotearoa New Zealand towards a low-carbon, circular economy.

Practical alternatives are readily available for the items and plastic types proposed for phase-out. Alternatives include reusable items (such as metal spoons or reusable containers), non-plastic alternatives or easier to recycle plastics (such as types 1, 2 and 5).

For example, sushi trays can be replaced with reusable or paper and fibre-based alternatives, and other recyclable plastic alternatives. Yoghurt pottles can be replaced with PET and Polypropylene plastics, which are recyclable, or glass. And plastic straws can be replaced by metal, bamboo or edible straws – or no straw at all.

Many businesses and individuals have already made changes. Many others are figuring out the best alternatives. It’s not always easy to decide on the best alternative, which can vary depending on individual businesses. However a good initial approach for replacing hard-to-recycle plastics, is to first consider reusable or recyclable alternatives. Compostable bio-based plastics are not a good alternative as they’re still plastic and will also be phased out

The Sustainable Business Network is supporting the transition to a circular economy for plastics and packaging by providing businesses with the tools and resources to make more informed packaging decisions. We’re helping businesses meet the commitment to have 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

To find out more, come along to our Packaging Masterclass on 2 September! You’ll get the most up-to-date information from across Aotearoa New Zealand’s packaging system and learn what the phase-outs mean for you.

In the meantime, check out our free resources to get ahead of the regulations, learn about best practice and start making more informed packaging decisions.

Thanks to our partners Foodstuffs NZ, New Zealand King Salmon and thinkstep for supporting SBN’s packaging mahi.