The biggest players in the New Zealand food and packaging industry met last week (Aug 28) at an industry event to
discuss and exchange ideas for ending packaging waste.
The event, which included the Packaging Forum’s AGM, focussed on innovation in sustainable packaging and providing
solutions for consumers. Speakers included officials from the Ministry for the Environment, who discussed the current
work programme on waste which has a strong focus on consumer packaging.
Packaging Forum chair Rob Langford says the Ministry’s recent announcement, for consultation on the proposed declaration
of packaging as a priority product under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, was a major talking point. Product stewardship
sees people and business take responsibility for the products they make and sell at the end of their useful life, so
that these products are recycled, reused or repurposed. Regulated product stewardship requires the whole of industry to
“Our industry is already leading the charge to find solutions for our packaging at end-of-life, designing out
unnecessary packaging, and reducing litter and potential harm to our land and waterways,” says Rob. “Our current
programmes, for soft plastics, glass bottles and jars, and litter via public place recycling are great examples of
“The issues facing our industry are complex and we know collaboration is critical to enable us to meet demand from
consumers and the Government for more sustainable packaging. The industry event is one of the ways we progress this,”
“We are also leading the development of new product stewardship programmes for rigid food and beverage plastics.”
The project will accelerate the development of solutions to meet rapid demand from the industry, consumers and
government, particularly for problematic plastics 3-7 as well as beverage containers, Rob says. “Through this project,
we are developing practical, on the ground solutions for rigid plastics.”
At the event officials from the Ministry for the Environment outlined their work programme around waste, while other
speakers discussed recent innovation in packaging and design. These included Future Post, which turns soft plastic and
milk bottles into fence posts, and The Better Packaging Company, which talked about working directly with their
customers on shared problems and solutions in a circular framework with e-commerce packaging.
Tauranga City Council representatives also spoke about the funding support received through one of The Packaging Forum’s
programmes for a kerbside colour-separated glass service which has already doubled the amount of glass being recycled
into new bottles and jars via O-I New Zealand. Industry group WasteMINZ also spoke about their research into compostable
The Forum has been providing solutions for packaging for a number of years, Rob says. It currently operates the only
government-accredited, voluntary product stewardship schemes for glass bottles and jars, and for soft plastics,
alongside delivering the public place recycling initiatives such as the Litter Less Recycle More project.
“We were pleased to hear directly from the Ministry about their current work programme on packaging and other related
issues such as the waste levy. We know that collaboration between our industry, local and central government, and the
resource recovery and waste sector is critical to achieving effective progress,” Rob says.
He called on those not part of the Forum to join in order to foster greater collaboration.
The Forum last year made a pledge on behalf of its members, including manufacturers, brand owners and retailers, to make
all their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
“Addressing these issues is complex, with many aspects to consider, such as the recyclability of different types of
plastic, labelling and material definitions, and the role plastic packaging plays in food safety and preventing food
waste, but I believe we’re making great progress.
“The Packaging Forum provides a platform for all parties to develop bespoke onshore solutions the envy of the world.
Simply transferring methods from overseas leaves us exposed to achieving mediocrity.”
For more information about The Packaging Forum visit www.packagingforum.org.nz