Protecting New Zealand’s environment is a shared responsibility between producers, manufacturers, brand-owners, retailers, consumers, and central and local government.
Meeting customers’ increasing expectations for sustainable products and packaging, and for environmental and social responsibility, drives business success for everyone.
- Nearly half of New Zealanders believe it is highly important for industry to take environmental and social sustainability seriously. Packaging is one of their top concerns when it comes to sustainability.1
- Retailers have a role to play in reducing waste and creating a circular economy for products and packaging.
- Industry2 has established voluntary product stewardship schemes to improve sustainability within their businesses.
- Retail NZ and retailers are working collaboratively within industry groups to create waste reduction and recycling solutions for priority products identified by government, including plastic packaging and electronic waste.
- Government regulation will progressively introduce mandatory product stewardship schemes that require retailers to play their part in taking responsibility for post-consumer waste management.
What’s the problem?
Retailers need clear and consistent nationwide standards and a nationwide system for management of waste and recycling, so that retailers and consumers can do the right thing.
- Although national standardisation of kerbside recycling was implemented on 1 February 2024, the scope does not include all packaging that is reusable, recyclable or commercially compostable.
- We do not have a national standard for labelling so that consumers know how to dispose of packaging.
- New Zealand does not yet have sufficient onshore waste management and recycling facilities for retailers and consumers to trust that their recycling efforts are recycled – not mixed in with general waste.
Retailers need product stewardship schemes that operate across all packaging materials, whether soft or rigid plastic, glass, metal, paper, cardboard, or mixed materials.
- The Plastic Packaging Product Stewardship (PPPS) Scheme proposal is for industry to take responsibility only for single use plastic packaging of consumer goods at retail and wholesale level.
- In the absence of a single stewardship scheme covering all packaging materials, retailers and suppliers find it difficult to make the best packaging choices to improve reuse or recycling.
- Government’s singular focus on plastic packaging may lead to suppliers choosing other, including composite, packaging that is less easily re-used, recycled, or composted.
Retailers need greater time and clarity about the introduction of new regulatory requirements in advancing the sustainability agenda.
- Retailers need greater clarity, and time to adjust to what is required, to better enable them to negotiate with suppliers.
- Retailers will need a longer transition period than currently envisaged to achieve data readiness and initial reporting/disclosures before the PPPS scheme fees come fully into effect.
- The timeline to phase out rigid (hard to recycle) plastics and polystyrene for food on 1 July 2025 is not achievable. Draft regulations have not been released for consultation, so are unlikely to be finalised by mid-2024 as planned. Given the size and complexity of the change, the industry would need more time (two years) to implement the regulations from when they are finalised.
What’s the answer?
If you have any questions about the Retail NZ Position Statement on Sustainability: Product Stewardship, please email [email protected].
Updated by Retail NZ in February 2024.
1 Retail NZ and Kantar, April 2021.
2 Including producers, brand owners, importers, retailers, collectors, and re-processors.