Continuing to reshape New Zealand’s plastic packaging

By Andy Kenworthy

Leading New Zealand businesses are continuing to collaborate with SBN to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We’re keeping up the pace, with a recent webinar and upcoming Masterclass workshop.

More than 100 business people joined a special SBN webinar on Covid-19 & Plastic Packaging on July 30. It provided an update on movements in New Zealand’s plastic packaging system. It also took a look at the impact of the pandemic on New Zealand’s plastic packaging systems.

The event was produced in partnership with Foodstuffs and New Zealand King Salmon. We also had speakers from Reclaim and packaging specialists Sealed Air. It’s still available to view for free.

The webinar highlighted continuing challenges in getting detailed plastic packaging data. There was also information on the difficulties finding viable end markets for recycled material. The pandemic has heightened the recycling challenges, especially with the growth in online shopping. Meanwhile, many nations are following China’s lead in tightening restrictions on waste imports.

Despite the headwinds, progress is still being made. Foodstuffs has seen great customer response from its roll out of ‘naked’ fruit and vegetables and other initiatives. And there’s a continuing shift away from problematic plastics into alternative materials and systems.

But there’s added urgency for a more self-contained circular economy based system within New Zealand. This is an approach where we design out waste, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems.

Kate Haselhoff leads SBN’s work on plastic packaging. She said: “We’ve had nearly 1,000 views of the webinar already and a busy chat box full of questions. So there’s clearly still an appetite and commitment to make the changes needed.”

The next step will be the latest in SBN’s series of Plastic Packaging Masterclasses. This will be held on Friday 16 October in Auckland. The Masterclasses unite the thinking of plastic packaging producers, users and policy makers.

At the same time SBN Advisory has been applying its collaboration consultancy to New Zealand’s aquaculture industry. Together we’ve been working on plastic waste reduction from mussel, oysters and salmon farms and processing. This has involved adapting and focusing the processes successfully employed in the Masterclasses.

Previous Masterclass attendees will receive their invite to the next Masterclass soon. If you would like to join the invite list, or to work with the SBN Advisory Team in your sector, contact kate@sustainable.org.nz