© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

'Plastics don't throw themselves into the ocean, humans do that'

Lachie McLeod
Single Use Plastic on beach
Single-use plastics left on a beach.  Jnzl's Photos, flickr

We've dealt with single-use plastic bags. Now it's time to get rid of straws, stirrers and fruit stickers.

After the success of stopping the use of single-use plastic bags, the government is looking to phase out hard-to-recycle PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and polystyrene packaging as well as oxo-degradable plastic products. 

Those plastics are commonly used in single-use plastic items such as plastic straws, drink stirrers, produce bags, tableware and non-compostable fruit stickers.

The aim is to phase out single-use plastics in two stages:

  • Stage one proposes all PVC and polystyrene food and beverage packaging to be removed as well all oxo-degradable plastic products by 2023.
  • Stage two proposes the removal of all remaining polystyrene food and beverage packaging and all other expanded polystyrene, plastic used in homewares and electronics by 2025.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said plastic was this generation's greatest environmental challenge.

"The level of plastic pollution in the oceans is unacceptable."

Following the success of the phasing out of plastic shopping bags, Sage was confident the country would succeed with the next phase.

Glenn Wilson, the general manager of plastic packaging company Custom Pak, said anything that could be recycled was a good packaging option.

"I don't know if the plastic ever threw itself into the ocean, human beings do that."

Wilson said the types of packaging the government was targeting were difficult to recycle.

He said there was a lot of green washing and fake news out there surrounding plastics.

Bio-degradable and compostable products were placed on a pedestal compared to standard plastics.

However, they could produce higher carbon emissions, which had a far greater impact on global warming.