Recently, the New Zealand Ministry of the Environment (Ministry for the Environment) released the National Plastics Action Plan, which outlines the plastic waste response actions that New Zealand will take from 2021 to 2024, aiming to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon circular economy . The key contents of the action plan are as follows:
(1) Supervised product management. The government has announced six priority products for regulation, including agricultural plastics and plastic packaging. The new regulations will increase incentives for the recycling of these products and give producers the responsibility for managing the end of the product life cycle. The Ministry of Environment will work with stakeholders to jointly design these regulated product management programs.
(2) Potential container recycling program. The container recycling program encourages consumers and businesses to return beverage containers for recycling or refilling by including a refundable deposit in the purchase price. When the consumer returns the empty container to the collection point, a refund will be provided. After the joint design process is completed, the Ministry of Environment advises ministers on the design of such plans.
(3) Roadside collection. The Ministry of Environment is developing a roadside recycling standardization program to improve consistency, reduce household confusion, improve material quality, and reduce remaining waste to landfill.
(4) Compostable packaging. The Ministry of the Environment is preparing a position statement on the use of compostable packaging and will expand the scope of research to better understand the impact of compostable plastics on the soil and food chain. The Ministry of Environment will consider using overseas compostable packaging standards in New Zealand.
(5) Phase out disposable and difficult-to-recycle plastics. The government recently announced that it will phase out certain plastics by July 2025. These plastics usually end up in landfill as garbage and pollute the environment. Food and beverage packaging that is difficult to recycle mainly comes from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene, and degradable plastic products (such as products made from oxidized or photodegradable plastics). Disposable plastic products include beverage mixers, cotton swabs, disposable produce bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.
(6) Plastic innovation fund and infrastructure investment. The government recently announced a $50 million plastics innovation fund to support projects that reimagine how to make, use, and dispose of plastics. The fund will open to accept letters of intent in November 2021. In addition, the government has invested approximately US$100 million through the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for recycling infrastructure, including optical sorters for better separation of plastics. (Lanzhou Documentation and Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, "Resources and Environment Dynamic Monitoring Express", 2021 No. 18, compiled by Liao Qin)
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