NZ Election 2020: Labour promises to phase out single-use plastics by 2025

Labour has announced its waste policy, including a $50 million research fund to create non-plastic alternatives.
Labour has announced its waste policy, including a $50 million research fund to create non-plastic alternatives. Photo credit: Getty

Labour has promised to phase out single-use and hard to recycle plastics if re-elected.

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, encouraging businesses to develop non-plastic alternatives.

In a bid to curb plastic pollution, Labour will "take steps" to see more recycling done locally and reduce the amount of our rubbish sent overseas. 

The waste policy was unveiled by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and environment spokesperson David Parker at the Sustainable Coastlines charity in Auckland on Sunday morning.

"This policy is about ensuring we uphold our clean green image, reduce waste in our environment, and create a future our children can be proud of," Ardern says.

Labour banned single-use plastic bags in July 2019, which led to coastline clean-ups finding fewer plastic bags on beaches - but there's "still work to do", Ardern says.

"Sixty-one percent of the waste found on our beaches each year is plastic and it can cause serious harm to our marine life."

Recommended by Ardern's Chief Science Advisor, the $50 million 'Plastics Innovation Fund' will create jobs and support local manufacturing, Parker says.

The fund will provide grants to researchers or companies who can produce more sustainable and affordable options to everyday plastic products.

Ardern says there will be an "adequate lead-in time" to phasing out single-use plastics, so businesses will not be put under pressure to change products on short term notice.

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

"When it comes to the environment voters have a stark choice," Parker says.

"National is pushing policies that take us backward and undo important environmental policies,

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

Labour expects to roll out the regulations of six 'product stewardship schemes' in 2021 - where a producer or seller of a product takes responsibility for reducing the environmental impact of their products.

The party has allocated $124 million towards waste infrastructure, with $36.7 million to high-tech recycling plants nationwide.