The Packaging Council of New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment have brought together brand owners, retailers, importers, manufacturers, recyclers and local government to negotiate a New Zealand Packaging Accord.
The Accord was signed on 10 August 2004 at a function at Parliament Buildings, by the Minister for the Environment, the Packaging Council of New Zealand (PAC.NZ), Recycling Operators of New Zealand (RONZ) and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).
The Packaging Council of New Zealand has published three annual reports on its website to report on the progress of the Packaging Accord.
Packaged goods contribute hugely to the New Zealand economy. Packaging is vital to ensuring the quality, health and safety of goods, in delaying spoilage of perishables, and in branding and marketing. Packaging is highly visible in the waste stream and in spite of any consumer benefits, the public strongly supports reducing wasteful use of packaging resources.
Part of a general drive towards sustainable development, the Accord is a voluntary industry and government initiative to make more sustainable use of packaging.
It takes over from the 1996 Accord on a Strategy to Minimise Packaging Waste and was signed on 10 August 2004. This Accord will run for five years, from 2004 to 2009.
Producers (brand owners and retailers/importers) will take responsibility for what happens to their packaging products throughout their lifecycle - from manufacture to use, to recycling and eventual disposal.
Also involved in this lifecycle are manufacturers of packaging, councils and businesses that collect used packaging material for recycling, and consumers who buy and throw away packaging.
The goal is for everyone to waste less and be more efficient when making, using and recovering packaging materials.
The packaging lifecycle starts with designing packaging and choosing the raw materials to make it and ends with used packaging materials being recovered to close the loop.
Goods are put into the packaging in New Zealand or packaging is imported with goods already inside it.
You as the consumer can take packaging into consideration when you decide what you buy.
When you've finished using the packaging you make another decision - to send it for recycling or put it in the rubbish bin. This then is taken to the landfill. For detailed information on landfills see Solid Waste Analysis Protocol (SWAP).
If you decide to put packaging (say, a bottle) in the recycling bin, it will be recovered. Some of the materials will be used to make more packaging, others will be reused in New Zealand or overseas for other purposes.
Congratulations - you've closed the loop!
It's a partnership between government and industry.
Main parties are:
Each party to the Accord and the six packaging sector groups have prepared sector action plans. These state what they intend doing over the next five years to improve the sustainability of packaging.
Sector action plans include joint and sector targets - measurable goals to be achieved in the five-year life of the Accord.The Accord is voluntary but all parties are strongly committed to it. If this voluntary approach does not encourage product stewardship and provide sufficient improvements in reducing packaging waste per New Zealander, Government will consider doing so by regulation.
Joint national targets include recovering a specified percentage of the five main packaging materials - paper, plastic, aluminium, steel and glass - by weight of consumption.
Recovery targets for 2008 are:
Alongside this brand owners and retailers are working to reduce the number of plastic checkout bags used.
Packaging consumption and collection for recovery in New Zealand
We can see how much packaging material we waste by looking at the difference between what's used and what's collected for recovery.
Use and collection of packaging increased at similar rates per head of population from 1994 to 2002. The amount of packaging we wasted per head didn’t change significantly in this time because we had been collecting more for recovery. Since the start of the 2004 Accord, packaging recovery has been gradually outpacing packaging use, resulting in packaging waste per head starting to decrease.
Every year from 1994 to 2002 each New Zealander consumed an average of 140kg of packaging. During this time an increasing amount of packaging was recovered every year. On average, 83kg of packaging went to landfill between 1994 and 2002 per person per year.
By weight, New Zealanders send more paper packaging to landfill than they do plastics, glass, steel and aluminium packaging. By volume, some packaging types take up more space than others.
Using less packaging and recovering more packaging after use will narrow the waste gap.
Central and local government can measure different types of waste, including packaging that ends up in our landfills. For detailed information on landfills see Solid Waste Analysis Protocol (SWAP).
Graph: Weight of packaging waste per head of population
Consumers make vital decisions at two points in the packaging lifecycle:
Shoppers can support companies and retailers that:
People in companies and organisations who buy packaged goods (e.g. procurement officers) can use the same guidelines above (1-3).
Recycle all your cardboard, paper, glass, cans, and plastics types 1 and 2 (check the number on the bottom of the container).
Take your own shopping bag with you, so you don't need a plastic bag when you buy something.
Look for products with the Environment Choice label - these products are eco-friendly.
Useful Ministry for the Environment links:
Other useful links:
Last updated: 11 October 2013