FGC and The Packaging Forum are to jointly lead a project to co-design a Plastic Packaging Product Stewardship Scheme for New Zealand.

Environment Minister David Parker made the announcement today at an event hosted by FGC and The Packaging Forum.

It will use funding from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund to help design a regulated plastic packaging product stewardship scheme that will require producers, brand owners, importers, retailers and consumers to take responsibility for collecting and dealing with plastic packaging.

An estimated 60 per cent of imported plastic is used by the packaging sector.

The Government is providing $994,900 to design the over two years, with input from across the plastic packaging chain. FGC and The Packaging Forum will also contribute funding to the project, which will cost $1.36m.

Both organisations have considerable experience in facilitating industry-led solutions:

  • FGC is part of a global leadership group on product stewardship, and directly engaged in the Australian Food & Grocery Council’s research to design a soft plastic product stewardship scheme in Australia. Its Sustainability Committee has lead ground-break initiatives in recycling and reusability.
  • The Packaging Forum has more than a decade’s experience with the development and management of voluntary product stewardship schemes for glass packaging, soft plastic, and public place recycling/litter.

Tony Nowell CNZM has been appointed the project’s Independent Chair and will oversee project management, governance, and delivery of the project. Supporting him will be The Packaging Forum CEO Rob Langford (Project Manager), and Lyn Mayes (Project Coordinator). Both have wide experience of project management, and of setting up and operating product stewardship schemes.

Mr Nowell says the announcement is a pivotal moment that will transform how we use and recover plastic packaging.

“Both the Packaging Forum and FGC are well placed to be joint leaders of the project management process. As well as having the relevant industry experience, they have direct access to global partners to help rapidly identify and operate best-practice product stewardship schemes that will allow us to hit the ground running,” he says.

“The project will deliver the research, data collation, analysis and discussion to identify the most fitting product stewardship scheme for New Zealand. Ultimately, the project will look at how plastic is currently collected – or not – and whether there is a more efficient and effective way to do this.

“In addition, part of the project remit is to include recommendations to the Minister on the precise design and organisational structure for a plastic priority product stewardship scheme.”

FGC Chair Mike Pretty says FGC recognises the need for industry to show leadership, and to be part of the project, and looks forward to continued work with The Packaging Forum.

“Both organisations bring huge expertise in this area to the table, and we look forward to putting that to good use. The time for such a scheme is now.

“FGC members have a mantra that if we are part of the problem then we’ll work hard to be part of the solution, and that’s what we are doing.”

Mr Langford says this is industry’s opportunity to leave a genuine legacy for future generations.

“As industry, we have a responsibility to deal with the end-of-life recovery for packaging. It is also important that producers are actively engaged and are involved in the leading the project because they are responsible for the choices made around plastic packaging,” he says.

Given the project is a co-design process, consumer and community groups, government, producers, and processors will be involved in the decision-making process throughout the project.

Plastic packaging (excluding beverage containers) was declared a priority product under section 9 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 in July 2020. This means a product stewardship scheme for plastic packaging must be developed and all producers of plastic packaging must be part of the scheme.  At this stage, all plastic packaging used for consumer goods sold via retail or wholesale (excluding plastic drinks containers, which are part of a proposed Container Return Scheme) will be included, as will liquid paperboard and compostable plastic.

The end of the project will see the team recommend a not-for-profit, product stewardship organisation (PSO) structure, which is responsible for the delivery of the plastic packaging priority product scheme, and a scheme design that will be able to meet the requirements of the Waste Minimisation Act.

David Parker also announced the first four investments to be made from the $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund, which was set up last year.

The one with relevance for the FMCG sector is an initiative with Kaipaki Dairies that extends their reusable milk keg delivery service, removing up to a million single use plastic milk bottles per annum.

He said that together, these investments will help reduce the amount of plastic waste that gets into the environment and into landfill.

“They build on the decisive action the Government has already taken to tackle the problem of plastic pollution, including the ban on single-use plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink packaging and other single use plastic items.”