New Zealand Plastics Phase-Out

The New Zealand Government is phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic items.

From 1 July 2023, it is illegal to sell and manufacture single-use plastic tableware (e.g., 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 needs, 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 that have been banned or restricted since 1 July 2023.

Single-use plastic produce bags

Single-use plastic drinking straws*

Single-use plastic tableware and cutlery

Plastic produce

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

  1. Manage stock
  2. Consider your options
  3. 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

  • Since 1 July 2019, lightweight plastic shopping bags with handles, less than 70 microns in thickness, were banned in New Zealand.​
  • Since 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]

If you have a question specific to the plastic phase-outs, please get in touch with Ministry for the Environment directly by emailing [email protected]

If your query relates to compliance or excess stock, email [email protected]

Updated February 2024.

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