Transition from plastics requires Kiwi ingenuity

National are broadly in agreement with the Government’s decision to phase out a range of particularly problematic plastics, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“There won’t be many New Zealanders who don’t think we have too much plastic in our lives and that much of it, while inexpensive and convenient, is causing damage to our environment and adding to issues we have with landfills.

“These changes aren’t without costs, however, and the Government needs to be aware of the impacts that will be felt by consumers. We can hope it will be a price most people who can afford it will be prepared to pay, but for some, even a few cents extra on the price of multiple products will be a real challenge when added to their total weekly shopping bill.

“It is important that the needs of people with disabilities are considered as well, as they often have unique needs that require the use of single-use plastics. I have heard from people for whom the flexibility and hygiene of plastic straws cannot be replaced by organic alternatives.

“The Government can and should be criticised for taking so long to act and for sending a series of conflicting messages to manufacturers and retailers over the last nearly four years.  It’s been a time of uncertainty with some food and retail businesses not having the benefit of knowing what the government’s intentions are.

“Even with the announcement now made, actual implementation will be delayed because time is required for changes to packaging processes, materials, sourcing alternatives and in some case inventing new solutions such as will be required for fruit labels.

“Those time frames could have been shortened if the government had been clearer about their intentions much earlier.

“I have confidence in the ingenuity of Kiwis to come up with alternative products and processes to help transition us to a society with less reliance on plastics.”