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Labour promises action to reduce waste and plastics

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Labour Party is taking the next step in removing plastic rubbish from our oceans and environment by phasing out single use and hard to recycle plastics such as polystyrene packaging, cotton buds and some cups, while establishing a $50 million dollar fund for businesses to develop alternatives here in New Zealand, creating opportunities for domestic manufacturing.

"New Zealanders are proud of our clean and green reputation and Labour is committed to taking the next steps to protect our environment from the harm of plastic waste," Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern said.

"Getting rid of plastics is one of the main topics children write to me about, so this policy is about ensuring we uphold our clean green image, reduce waste in our environment and create a future our children can be proud of.

"In our first term we banned single-use plastic bags, with over one billion bags estimated to have been removed from the environment. Already groups who clean up our coastlines are reporting finding fewer plastic bags on our beaches.

"But there is more work to do. 61 percent of the waste found on our beaches each year is plastic and it can cause serious harm to our marine life. Removing more plastics is good for our beaches, environment and climate.

"By 2025 we will phase out single use and hard to recycle plastic items such as drink stirrers, cutlery, some cups and lids, produce bags, straws (with an exemption for those with disabilities), cotton buds and stickers on produce, such as those on individual fruit items.

"All of these items currently have non-plastic alternatives, and some we will be able to phase out before 2025. But we want to ensure that there is adequate lead in time and businesses are not put under any pressure to change out their products in the short term.

"Businesses were given ample notice to phase out plastic bag use and that went seamlessly. Many business are already using plastic alternatives and it’s likely that by signalling these changes we will see more businesses making the shift," Jacinda Ardern said.

Labour will also launch a $50 million fund to help New Zealand businesses develop and manufacture non-plastic alternatives, particularly for single use and hard to recycle products, as we step up efforts to reduce waste and better protect our environment and precious marine life.

"This fund would provide grants and loans to researchers or companies who can rethink the plastic products we use in our daily lives and provide more sustainable, affordable options to them," Environment spokesperson David Parker said.

"A Plastics Innovation Fund was recommended by the Chief Science Advisor and will build on the actions we’ve taken in Government to reduce waste.

"Stepping up our action against waste and developing non-plastic alternatives can also create jobs and support manufacturing here in New Zealand while safeguarding our reputation and protecting our environment from the plastic waste that blights our landscape and can kill our seabirds and marine life.

"When it comes to the environment voters have a stark choice. National is pushing policies that take us backwards and undo important environmental policies, while Labour will keep moving with our plans to enhance our environment and protect it from plastic rubbish.

"We are also reducing food waste by redirecting food to those in need and we will create jobs by investing in waste infrastructure as we respond to the impacts of COVID-19.

"We’ve also allocated $124 million towards waste infrastructure. The first projects to be funded have already been announced, with $36.7 million going to high-tech recycling plants nationwide. We will take steps to see more recycling done locally, creating jobs and reducing the amount of our rubbish sent overseas.

"Work has begun on six priority ‘product stewardship schemes’ where a producer or seller of a product takes responsibility for reducing the environmental impact of their products. Those priorities are plastic packaging, tyres, eWaste, agrichemicals and their containers, refrigerants, and farm plastics.

"We expect to be able to roll out the regulations for these schemes from next year. Then Labour will look for further products we can better manage through mandatory product stewardship schemes.

"We will also continue work on a deposit return scheme for drink containers, as a step towards reducing the volume of single use containers.

"In addition, Labour will work with councils to standardise the system for kerbside recycling collection," David Parker said.

Labour’s waste plan is paid for from the waste levy that is already in place with half of it being ring-fenced for councils to help with the costs of managing waste. The other half will go to initiatives that promote or achieve waste minimisation, including the $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund.

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