New Zealand signs global declaration to cut plastic waste

New Zealand has joined an international pledge to cut plastic wastes from our economy and environment, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

“The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment sees the countries involved commit to a ‘circular economy’ approach to plastics, preventing them from becoming waste and ensuring they don’t end up in the environment,” Eugenie Sage said.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, the Global Commitment brings together governments, businesses and NGOs around the world to address the root causes of plastic waste and pollution, by looking at the whole system of how plastic is imported, produced and used. It was officially unveiled at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali today.

“New Zealanders are calling for bold and decisive action on plastic waste, which is polluting our oceans and land and harming wildlife,” Eugenie Sage said.

“The recent consultation on single-use plastic bags was a significant step forward. The New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration, where 15 local and multi-national companies have pledged to use 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in their New Zealand operations by 2025 or earlier is another useful initiative.

“We’re heading in the right direction, but we need to look at the whole plastic system in New Zealand and join other countries in adopting a true sustainable economy approach,” Eugenie Sage said.

As part of a sustainable economy, products and packaging need to be designed to be taken apart when they are no longer useful, and the materials either made into something new or returned to nature through composting. Waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are designed out of the system.

“I recently announced the Government’s priority work programme for waste that sets in place the building blocks for a more sustainable economy where waste is designed out.

“This includes expanding the Waste Disposal Levy so that it applies to all landfills across the country, improving our national data on waste and resource recovery, implementing mandatory product stewardship schemes for the most problematic waste streams like vehicle tyres and e-waste, investing more strategically in innovation and infrastructure to support a circular economy, and working with key sectors to fast-track their transitions toward circular economy operations.

“Putting together these initiatives will support us in making tangible progress towards the Global Commitment by 2025. The Government is committed to making this change, but we can only do this with the support of business and industry, communities and ultimately, individuals.

“Each of us can play a role – whether that’s businesses making changes to their supply chains or individuals taking responsibility for the items they buy and how they dispose of them. I challenge all New Zealanders to take action to support this Global Commitment.”

About the Global Commitment

The Commitment aims to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source and has been signed by 250 organisations including many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and NGOs.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment, and will be officially unveiled at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali today.

More than 15 financial institutions with in excess of $2.5 trillion in assets under management have also endorsed the Global Commitment and over $200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.

The Global Commitment aims to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging. Targets will be reviewed every 18 months, and become increasingly ambitious over the coming years. Businesses that sign the commitment will publish annual data on their progress to help drive momentum and ensure transparency.

Current targets include:

  • Eliminate: problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models
  • Innovate: to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025
  • Circulate: the plastic produced, by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products

Eliminating unnecessary and problematic plastics is an essential part of the Global Commitment vision, and will make it easier to keep remaining plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

For more information on the Global Commitment visit www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org