The Packaging Forum welcomes the Govenment's proposal to ban all single-use plastic bags, including those described as degradable, biodegradable and/or compostable .

The Packaging Forum welcomes the Govenment’s proposal to ban all single-use plastic bags, including those described as degradable, biodegradable and/or compostable .

The Packaging Forum welcomes the Government’s proposal to ban all single use plastic, biodegradable and compostable bags to set a level playing field for the retail industry and to take an estimated 800 million bags out of circulation.

Lyn Mayes, Manager Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme said:

“Based on a recent audit around 10% of the number of bags which we collect are single use shopping carrier bags. These bags are not just from supermarkets but a wide range of retail chains as well as dairies. We have also noticed an increase in degradable and compostable bags which are a contaminant in our recycling stream.

“The soft plastic recycling scheme has a target of a 35% recovery rate by 2025. We anticipate a recovery rate of 11% this year and that lower plastic consumption and higher recovery through greater consumer awareness will make a significant difference next year.

“Our primary goal is always to reduce the amount of plastic packaging consumed. In terms of recovery, volumes have increased month on month as people have become familiar with the range of packaging we take. We now collect around 3 million bags every week. In 2017 shoppers dropped off 365 tonnes of soft plastic for recycling and we already achieved that by July this year.

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Mayes says that the ban will have a positive impact on the scheme:

“Single use carrier bags represent around 50% by weight of the soft plastic packaging consumption but 12% by weight of what New Zealanders are putting in our collection bins. We anticipate that as these bags become obsolete, we’ll see a proportional increase in soft plastic packaging such as bread bags, sanitary hygiene packaging; frozen food bags and other branded packaging.”

Mayes says the Packaging Forum supports the inclusion of compostable and degradable plastics in the proposal:

“The shift to products which are described as degradable, biodegradable and/or compostable has increased as companies seek alternatives to plastic. New Zealand does not yet have a standard for compostable packaging nor does the current infrastructure take most of these products in the volumes presented which means they will mostly end up in a landfill.

“To this end, The Packaging Forum has established an independent technical working group (Compostable Packaging Standard Adoption Working Group (CPSA-WG)) comprising composters, manufacturers, waste industry, central and local government and research institutions to assess existing international standards and to recommend a NZ standard.”

To have your say visit the Ministry for the Environment website.

For more information visit The Packaging Forum website.