The New Zealand Government is phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic items.
From 1 July 2023, it will be illegal to sell and manufacture single-use plastic tableware (eg, plates and bowls), cutlery and produce bags used to pack fresh fruits and vegetables. The sale of single-use plastic straws will be banned, with exemptions for disabled people or those with health need, and an exemption for on-pack straws until 1 January 2026.
Non-home compostable plastic produce labels will also be phased out in two steps by mid-2025. It’s now time to plan to phase out any of the above listed single-use plastic items you currently have in stock! Ensure you understand your obligations, as penalties may apply for non-compliance.
What items are banned?
Items to be banned or restricted from 1 July 2023.
Single-use plastic produce bags
Single-use plastic drinking straws*
Single-use plastic tableware and cutlery
The ban applies where the items are sold or supplied for free, and where they are provided individually or in packets.
Compostable or ‘plant-based’ plastic alternatives are also banned for all items, except produce labels.
*Some exemptions apply to these items.
Learn more about the plastics ban in our podcast, Retail: Unplugged
Why is the ban being introduced?
Plastic regularly ends up as waste in our environment, harming our wildlife and contaminating our food and water. Many plastic items are single-use; they are often used only once before being disposed of.
Shifting away from single-use plastics will help reduce plastic waste, improve our recycling systems and protect our environment.
With the help of this change New Zealand will avoid sending hundreds of millions of single-use plastic items to landfill each year.
Who does the ban apply to?
The ban applies to all businesses and organisations. Key sectors include:
- Retail and hospitality businesses, such as cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, takeaway food outlets, party and discount stores, supermarkets, market stalls, festivals and events.
- Suppliers, such as manufacturers, distributors, importers, wholesalers, and online marketplaces.
- Organisations and not-for-profits, such as health and community services, charities, community groups, sporting clubs, schools, and government bodies.
Steps to prepare
- Manage stock
- Consider your options
- Inform your team and customers
Webinar recording: Single-use Plastics ban with the Ministry for the Environment
We hosted a webinar with Daisy Croft, Senior Policy Analyst from Ministry for the Environment, to help you understand more about the single-use plastic bans and what it means for you. Watch the recording from this webinar to ensure you are being compliant with the bans.
Other current bans
- From 1 July 2019, lightweight plastic shopping bags with handles, less than 70 microns in thickness, were banned in New Zealand.
- From 1 October 2022, it is illegal to provide, sell or manufacture a banned item in New Zealand. Learn more about the plastic products banned here.
What’s next for the plastic phase-outs?
Tranche 3 of the Government’s plastic phase-outs includes all other food and beverage packaging made from PVC and rigid polystyrene by July 2025. Further information on tranche 3 is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website here, or you can email [email protected].