Last week the Ministry for the Environment released the National Plastics Action Plan which describes the Government's future intentions to deal with plastic waste. It defines plastic waste in categories called farm plastics, which includes propagation trays, and plastic packaging, which includes plant pots.
The Action Plan lays out how the Government intends to use a “Product Stewardship’ framework to encourage industries to establish schemes to deal with plastics. For our industry, a product stewardship scheme could be established for plastic plant pots, trays and labels, etc. In the future this may be extended to items like irrigation tube, crop covers, etc.
Similar frameworks are already in place in other countries. The Australian Greenlife industry is piloting their ‘PotCycle’ scheme and the Horticultural Trades Assn in the UK launched a nation-wide plant pot recycling scheme in 2019.
NZ Plant Producers has been speaking with other organisations working in this space, including Agrecovery and an organisation called the ANZPAC Plastics Pact to explore how a recycling scheme could be established here. Feedback from our members, along with the possibility of new regulations means that it is now time to begin to make progress on this issue.
What has happened:
- In July 2020, the Government declared farm plastics as ‘priority products’ under the Waste Minimisation Act – requiring them to be part of a recycling scheme by July 2023.
- Plastic pots, trays and labels were listed as priority products, but have not yet been in the spotlight as items like silage wrap have been more urgent.
- We have been in regular contact with the Ministry for the Environment to track the development of the new requirements.
- Feedback from our members shows that plastics are a high priority for our industry.
- NZPPI has been working with an Australian industry working group that is designing a pot recycling scheme in Australia.
- NZPPI is preparing to establish a working group to look at the options to design and establish a pot, tray & label reuse / recycling programme in NZ.
- The NZ Plant Producers Science & Innovation Subcommittee has been overseeing this area of work.
Watch this space for updates and information.