14th December 2020 By Bridget O'Connell | firstname.lastname@example.org | @foodtickernz
The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council says it is against any compulsory phase out of plastic packaging without other options being available.
The council took the stance in its submission to the government’s Reducing the impact of plastic on our environment – moving away from hard-to-recycle and single-use items consultation document.
The government’s consultation document recommends the preferred option of a mandatory phase-out, or ban, to drive change around how plastic is used in NZ and to reduce its impact on the environment.
However, NZFGC’s 16-page submission said that it considered that a number of options “working in concert over time will be successful and better suited to New Zealand overall.”
It added that a “proportionate response to get the best results, as undertaken in the EU, may require a mix of options to apply.”
One of these proposed options is mandatory stewardship which could see the responsibility for plastic waste and what happens to products at the end of their useful life put on manufacturers, importers and retailers for example.
The association also raised concerns that products that appear in 2020 to be ‘hard-to-recycle’, may not mean they are ‘hard-to-recycle’ in the near future.
“New technologies are already emerging which now process previously ‘hard-to-recycle’ materials. These warrant serious consideration.”
Underlying its submission, was the NZFCG concern with how the government reached its preferred option of banning plastic, arguing that more options would be on the table if the effectiveness and the cost of the action was properly considered.
“The most significant issue for NZFGC” it said, “relates to the criteria for assessing the proposed options.” It went on to “strongly recommend two criteria be applied, both equally weighted.”
These comprise effectiveness, which required asking if the option will make progress to goals of circular economy and advance elimination or significant reduction in the use of PVC and polystyrene packaging, oxodegradable plastics and single-use items; and cost, that is, can it be implemented without placing undue costs on New Zealand, business or Government.
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