« Back to Homepage

Packaging New Zealand Activity update – May 2023

Packaging New Zealand

Activity update – May 2023

Below is a summary of our activity since the AGM in October last year, along with key focus areas for 2023.

It’s been quite a year already! With the major parties neck-and-neck in recent polls, it’s looking like it will be a drag race through to the election. The cyclone recovery is front and centre along with several other ‘bread and butter’ issues, like cost of living and economic security. The container return scheme was recently  deferred, with no new date in sight.

Packaging New Zealand is continuing to advocate on the political issues impacting our industry. We kicked off the year with a written submission to the Productivity Commission on economic resilience to supply chain disruptions, and a written submission on the bills comprising the Resource Management Act reform, followed by an oral hearing at the Environment Select Committee. In the submissions, members of the Packaging New Zealand Executive Board made clear the considerations and concerns relevant to our sector – particularly around the need to ensure that the Bills do not stifle the ability of our sector to operate viably, that they don’t create more ambiguity, and that they do not unintendedly make it harder to comply (which includes our ability to meet the country’s waste and recycling goals).

As you are aware, the Ministry for the Environment has released the waste strategy. Minister Parker’s press release can be viewed here, and the waste strategy here. A summary of the strategy was sent to our members.

Some high-levels concerns we have with the strategy are whether it is large-scale and long-term enough to keep up with other countries and bring about sufficient change. We are also of the view that waste policy needs to be holistic and integrated with policy in other areas, such as investment direction, climate change technology, regional development, workforce development, and the everyday cost of goods and services. These considerations, along with others, are things that we intend to advocate on. We intend to meet with relevant ministers and politicians to discuss waste strategy, along with other topics.

Earlier this year we requested meetings with Minister Parker (Environment), Minister O’Connor (Trade), and Minister Shaw (Climate Change). While Shaw regrettably declined, we secured a meeting with Hon Eugenie Sage and Chlöe Swarbrick in his place. We have met with Scott Simpson (National’s environment spokesperson), and are scheduled to meet Todd McClay (National’s trade spokesperson) this month.

In the meeting with Minister Parker, our intention has been to discuss (as previously planned), the need for clear articulation of the Government’s priorities around waste, recycling, and circular economy, as well as the prospect of formal collaboration between industry and Government.

We also wish to advocate for a shift in the focus of research and development, toward adopting and modifying existing technology solutions, rather than researching and developing solutions that may already exist overseas. Finally, as you may have heard, the Government container return scheme has been deferred. As we believe that a container return scheme will be beneficial if executed properly, we intend to discuss this further.

While we have not heard from Parker yet, we recently had a meeting with Scott Simpson. This was a positive meeting where we were understood, and Scott invited us to send in our priorities for consideration. On this note, we have developed a Packaging NZ manifesto document for circulation. This will be available shortly.

In the meeting with Minister O’Connor, we intend to discuss trade policy and the current mismatch between our domestic policy settings that intend to incentivise increased circular economy, and those of our international trading partners. As mentioned, we wish to raise awareness around any blind spots in policy and trade settings, such as whether New Zealand will be able to keep up with the rules being put in place by our trading partners, some of which are making large efforts in waste reduction policy.

Our meeting with Hon Eugenie Sage focused on emissions, and ensuring that packaging is considered practically and is scientifically and economically justified. We were able to communicate several of the issues that we are facing as a sector, which was taken onboard. Eugenie invited us to provide material to them.

As the year progresses, we intend to meet with more members from Government, the Opposition, and minor parties. We are hopeful that National will be open to the prospect of a Packaging Governance Group, within which Packaging New Zealand can sit and advocate for our shared interests.

Overall, the Packaging New Zealand Executive Board remain concerned at the risks to members from ongoing misalignment between different Government policies and agencies. The singular focus adopted by some officials risks unworkable conflicts in legislation which our members are ostensibly and unreasonably expected to work around.

The ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ obligation in the Waste Act can be interpreted as extending to managing litter in the streets, an issue Government via its CRS announcements and Councils with direct regulatory control under the Local Government and Litter Control Acts appear unwilling to address effectively. New Zealand’s trade agreements, such as the recently completed NZ-UK free trade agreement create caveats related to the ‘public interest’, without clearly defining how that concept should be interpreted.

The proposed Natural Built Environment Bill will require protection of the environment above all other considerations, which, while laudable in principle, could prove difficult for even those engaged in recycling (recognising that such activity involves truck movements, unavoidable noise, and an obligation to keep staff safe).

Thank you – we look forward to providing you with updates on these activities later in the year.

Harry Burkhardt