Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Greens Welcome Progress On Hard To Recycle And Single Use Plastics, But More Needs To Be Done


The Green Party welcomes progress on the phase-out of
some hard to recycle plastics and some single-use plastics,
but says more must be done.

“Plastic waste is one of
our generation’s greatest environmental challenges,” says
Green Party spokesperson for waste, Eugenie Sage.

New
Zealanders dispose of an estimated 159 grams of plastic
waste per person per day. With a population of around 5
million the Ministry for the Environment estimates that
equates to more than 290,000 tonnes annually. Plastic is the
most common litter found on our beaches (61% of all items in
surveys for Sustainable Coastline’s Litter Intelligence
programme).

“The level of plastic pollution in the
oceans is unacceptable. New Zealanders want urgent action,
so we welcome the steps announced today,” Sage
says.

“Seabirds, turtles, whales and other marine
life should not have to die from our plastic pollution.
Phasing out expanded polystyrene takeaway containers and
single use items such as plastic produce bags, cutlery, and
tableware by October 2022 is good for people and planet. It
helps reduce plastic waste and pollution.

“It is
disappointing the Government has delayed a decision until
mid-2022 on whether to phase-out expanded polystyrene used
in packaging for large items and chill boxes, and has not
yet acted to phase out so-called ‘flushable’ wet wipes
containing plastic.

“We wish the Government had
heeded the strong public calls to phase out wet wipes
containing plastic. They cause troublesome fatbergs in
wastewater pipes and contribute to sewage spills in rivers
and harbours. In 2019, fatbergs were estimated to be costing
communities across New Zealand at least $16 million per year
in blockages. Tauranga City Council alone was dealing with
two tonnes of wet wipes in their pipes each
week.

“Expanded polystyrene is one of the worst
forms of plastic. It breaks easily and polystyrene particles
are easily washed into streams and the ocean, harming our
precious marine life. It is very difficult to recycle and
alternatives are available.

“There is a big work
programme ahead of the Ministry for the Environment. The
Green Party hopes the Ministry and expert sector groups can
prioritise phasing out single use cups such as coffee cups
(often plastic lined) which New Zealanders use around 295
million of per year. We want to see progress on this well
before the Government target date of 2025.

“The
proposed review of the Waste Minimisation Act is also
urgent. The current legal process around phasing out problem
plastics item by item is cumbersome. We need a faster and
more comprehensive process.

“The 2019 report, Rethinking
Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand
, by the Prime
Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, paints a vision for a
future where there is significantly less plastic entering
nature as waste and litter.

“This requires a
collective effort by Government, businesses, scientists,
innovators and households. Government must lead and take
clear and decisive action to drive change towards increased
materials recovery, recycling and reducing plastic
waste.

“Today’s announcement
helps.”

© Scoop Media

 



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