INDEPENDENT NEWS

WasteMINZ Pleased To See Phase Out Of Single-use Plastic Items

Published: Wed 12 Aug 2020 01:56 PM
- The move will force behaviour change for consumers and hospitality sector;
- Will improve quality of compost and soils in horticulture sector;
- Coffee cups and wet wipes not included in ban.
“Today’s announcement by Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage, to ban seven single-use plastic items is an important step in addressing plastic pollution,” says Donna Peterson, Chair of the WasteMINZ Behaviour Change Sector Group.
The items are plastic straws, plastic cotton-buds, drink stirrers, tableware, some single-use cups and lids, single-use produce bags and non-compostable produce stickers.
About 75 percent of litter found in beach clean-ups is still single-use plastic with straws still the ninth highest offender of beach clean-up items.
“Asking people to say no to straws is all good and well, but this doesn’t stop one being included in your drink by hospitality staff, purely out of habit. At the moment it is the responsibility of consumers to remember to bring their reusable alternatives to plastic straws, produce bags and tableware and only a minority of people manage to do this. Phasing out these products will force change,” Ms Peterson says.
The WasteMINZ Organic Materials Sector Group is also thrilled to see plastics that often contaminate composting included in the proposed ban. This includes some hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyrene packaging and oxo-degradable plastic products.
The changes will support the production of high quality, contamination-free compost for the New Zealand horticulture sector and home gardeners.
“The inclusion of oxo-degradable plastics and fruit stickers in this consultation is especially important for the organics sector as they often end up at commercial composting facilities. Because they are not designed to break down in compost they can end up as microplastics in soil,” says Chris Purchas, Chair of the WasteMINZ Organic Materials Sector Group.
“We welcome the inclusion of compostable plastic bags in the phasing out of single use plastic produce bags because they are often difficult to distinguish from other plastics,” Mr Purchas says.
However, coffee cups and wet wipes are not included in the proposed ban. These single-use items cause significant problems for industrial composting facilities.
The Organic Materials Sector Group is interested to see how the Ministry for the Environment intends to address these two items in the future and is pleased to see questions included on them in the consultation document.
“Compostable coffee cups are mostly lined with a plant-based plastic called PLA, and this cannot be processed at many of New Zealand’s industrial facilities. Non-compostable coffee cups are not recyclable so at the moment, so single-use coffee cups generally need to go to landfill. More work definitely needs to be done in this area,” Mr Purchas says.
While wet wipes are more of an issue for wastewater plant managers, they can also end up in council organics collections.
WasteMINZ looks forward to ensuring its members are part of this significant consultation.

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