1 Oct 2022

Single-use plastics ban extended to cotton buds, meat trays, stirrers

1:06 pm on 1 October 2022
Plastic cotton buds, drink-stirrers and meat trays are among single-use plastics banned from sale or manufacture in New Zealand, from 1 October, 2022.

Plastic drink-stirrers are among the single-use items banned from 1 October, 2022. Photo: 123RF

Polystyrene takeaway containers, plastic cotton buds and drink-stirrers are among single-use plastics banned from sale or manufacture in New Zealand from today.

Minister for the Environment David Parker said the step was part of a three-year progressive phasing out of the most problematic plastics.

On average, each New Zealander sends about 750kg of waste to landfill every year, much of which cannot be recycled.

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

Polystyrene food containers in the bin

Polystyrene takeaway food packaging is now forbidden. Photo: 123rf

Today's ban is the first since single-use plastic bags were banned in 2019.

Parker said that had prevented a billion plastic bags from ending up in landfills or the ocean. However, some stores had begun using thicker plastic bags, labelled as reusable.

More work toward phasing out problem plastics and reduce waste was part of the cooperation agreement between Labour and the Green Party after the 2020 election.

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said it was another step toward a country free of plastic pollution.

"The phase out of plastic shopping bags showed how easily we can make changes at retail and household level to avoid plastic waste and do better for nature.

"We won't miss these plastic items when they are gone either. With a bit of support and advice, switching to reusable products to replace these unnecessary plastics is easy," she said.

In mid-2023, the next group of single-use plastics to be phased out includes plates, bowls, cutlery, produce bags and non-compostable produce labels.

From today, these items can no longer be sold, made or given away to customers:

  • Polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages
  • Expanded polystyrene food and beverage retail packaging (eg foam takeaway containers or some instant noodle cups)
  • PVC food trays and containers for meat, produce and baked items
  • Plastics with additives that make them fragment into micro-plastics
  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers
  • Single-use plastic use cotton buds

However, some exceptions exist, including for medical, veterinary or scientific uses, and PVC plastic that is formed, filled with food and sealed on the same factory line.

Full details about what can and cannot be made or used is on the Ministry for the Environment website.

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