A multimillion-dollar boost from the Waste Minimisation Fund - financed by the Government's waste disposal levy - will go towards recycled plastic food packaging.
Pact Group NZ, part of the Australian packaging giant which operates in 15 countries across Australasia, has been given $3 million to help create a new packaging plant in Auckland.
The plant will be used to create New Zealand's first 100 percent recycled plastic food packaging range across ten common product lines including meat and bakery trays, deli, and produce.
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Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage announced the investment at Pact Group's Alto Packaging facility in Auckland on Monday.
She said the funding amounts to 50 percent of the total cost of the new packaging plant, which will allow recycled Type 1 or PET plastic (a form of polyester) to be decontaminated and made back into food packaging.
Last year, New World and PAK'nSAVE trialled Pact Group's recyclable plastic meat trays, comprised of 50 percent recycled material.
The Government's investment came from its Waste Minimisation Fund, of which only waste minimisation projects are eligible for funding. The fund is financed by the $10 per tonne (excluding GST) levy on all waste sent to landfill.
"Investing in industries and systems to avoid and reduce waste, particularly plastic waste, is a top priority. New Zealanders want to avoid and reduce plastic pollution," Sage said.
"New reprocessing infrastructure which enables plastics to be recycled and repurposed for use in food packaging is part of an effective response to China's National Sword."
The Chinese National Sword policy was implemented in 2018 as a ban on importing certain types of foreign recyclables. The New Zealand Government set up an urgent task force in May last year to deal with the change.
China had been buying around 15 million kilograms of plastic and paper from New Zealand every year for recycling. Some of those recyclables have now been bought by plants in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Sage said expanding plastics reprocessing infrastructure and capability in New Zealand rather than sending it "away" overseas is a key part of tackling the plastic pollution challenge.
Earlier this month, Sage - alongside Minister for Regional and Economic Development Shane Jones - announced that $40 million from the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) would be allocated to fund projects that "convert waste".
That announcement came on the same day - July 1 - when the Government's ban on single-use plastic bags was enforced.
Last week Jones announced that a proposed full-scale biogas plant in the North Island, capable of turning waste into energy, would receive a $7 million loan from the Government.