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Eradicating Plastic Waste and Pollution

Packaging New Zealand says that it is proud of its global members, Amcor, Nestle, Sealed Air and Unilever, who have embraced the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment launched this week, pledging to eradicate plastic waste and pollution.

The Commitment, with the social media hashtag #LineInTheSand, is being led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment.

Executive Director of Packaging NZ Sharon Humphreys says she hopes this global initiative will lead to a more balanced view of packaging solutions in New Zealand, and, in the continued absence of a national plan for waste management and recycling, provide a platform for local businesses to commit to and measure sustained improvement.

Ms Humphreys can’t remember a time of such energy and willingness to tackle the issues of global plastic pollution, and says the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment demonstrates perfectly this sentiment.

“Critical to the success of the commitment, is acknowledgement that ‘context’ plays a central role in determining overall success. Packaging New Zealand has long argued that there is a clear need for flexibility to ensure that progress is not paralysed by pursuit of impractical, unviable or unsustainable solutions. These would be clearly recognised if we had a national plan for waste management and recycling.”

She says in terms of the global environmental challenges faced, packaging has always been part of the problem and part of the solution, and it is unfortunate that New Zealand has tended to have an unbalanced vision.

“When it comes to plastic pollution, New Zealanders have been firmly pitched at the problem end, not unsurprising given the shocking images of seas of plastic and the impact this has on New Zealand’s pristine natural environment. However, it is important to understand that largely these disturbing images are depicting items which have been deliberately littered, or carelessly discarded so the elements make them litter even if they were put into a bin and/or are the result of inadequate waste management infrastructure.

“Sadly, as a result, much of the debate and commentary that has followed has been weighted toward the ‘evils’ of all plastic packaging.

“This unbalanced vision leaves no room for the ‘goodness’ of plastic packaging, and yet if we are to be successful in our efforts to reduce plastic pollution we must be vigilant to opportunities to optimise the good and eliminate the bad. This is the essence of the Commitment launched this week.”
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