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More single-use plastics banned


Kirikiriroa – Single-use plastic cotton buds, drink stirrers and most plastic meat trays are now among single use plastics banned from sale or manufacture in New Zealand.

This is the first group of the most problematic plastic products to be banned in a progressive phase out over the next three years, environment minister David Parker says.

Stopping the sale of these plastic products will reduce waste to landfill, improve recycling systems and encourage reusable or environmentally responsible alternatives.

Plastics that are banned from sale from 1 October 2022 are:

  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers
  • Single-use plastic cotton buds
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pre-formed food trays and containers*
  • Polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages
  • Expanded polystyrene food and beverage retail packaging (such as foam takeaway containers or some instant noodle cups)
  • Plastics with additives that make them fragment into micro-plastics

On average, every New Zealander sends about 750kgs of waste to landfill every year. Some products can’t be recycled and are unnecessary.

These are the first group of plastic products to be banned since the ban on single-use plastic bags in 2019. That has meant more than one billion fewer plastic bags have ended up in landfills or the ocean.

In mid-2023, the next group of single-use plastics to be phased out will include single use plastic plates, bowls, cutlery, single-use plastic produce bags and non-compostable produce labels. Other PVC and polystyrene food and beverage packaging will be banned from mid-2025.

The phase out of plastic shopping bags showed how easily people can make changes at retail and household level to avoid plastic waste and do better for nature. Kiwis won’t miss the plastic items when they are gone either.

Businesses with excess stock of banned plastics can use them internally, for food storage or food preparation, but it would be a breach of the law to sell or give them to customers or any other person.

Businesses can contact industry bodies or local recyclers to determine whether their products can be recycled onshore. For some clean unused items there may be recycling solutions. A list of New Zealand recyclers can be found here: Recyclers | Plastics New Zealand.