NZ Election 2020: David Seymour slams Labour Party's policy to phase out single-use plastics

ACT leader David Seymour has slammed the Labour Party's promise to phase out single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics if it is re-elected.

Its new policy means plastic straws, fruit stickers, cotton-buds, cutlery and certain cups will all be replaced by sustainable alternatives by 2025. Items without an alternative will be covered by a $50 million research fund to encourage businesses to develop non-plastic substitutes.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said the policy is about upholding New Zealand's "clean green image", reducing waste in the environment and creating a future the younger generation can be proud of.

Labour, while in Government, also banned single-use plastic bags in July 2019.

But Seymour criticised the new policy on Sunday as "virtue signalling".

"Labour's policy to ban stickers on fruit and plastic knives and forks is nothing more than virtue signalling that will inconvenience New Zealanders," he said.

"This is classic Labour Party policy. There will be no problem definition or cost-benefit analysis."

Seymour believes Labour has introduced "counterproductive" environmental policies while it has been in Government that will "hurt the planet".

"It banned plastic bags, but the alternatives are worse. It banned oil and gas exploration, and now we're importing Indonesian coal."

Instead, Seymour said better waste management is needed.

"The Government's political response to environmental issues is if in doubt, regulate. However, the solutions to many of our environmental problems are innovation."

ACT's environment policies include asking politicians to cut flights to Wellington by 25 percent, introducing a "no-nonsense" climate change plan and reducing waste to landfill.

Ardern said the policy will give an "adequate lead-in time" to phasing out single-use plastics so businesses won't be put under pressure to change products on short term notice.

The party will also continue to work on a deposit return scheme for drink containers and standardise the kerbside recycling collection system.

Labour's environment spokesperson David Parker said voters have a "stark choice" when it comes to policies on the environment.

"Labour will keep moving with our plans to enhance our environment and protect it from plastic rubbish."