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NZ behind international pace despite ban on plastic bags, expert warns

After yesterday's announcement of a ban on plastic bags, attention is already turning to other plastic, including packaging.

One expert warns New Zealand has already fallen off the international pace.

Dr Joya Kemper, sustainability marketing lecturer at University of Auckland, says banning plastic bags was a good first step. However, she said half of plastic waste comes from packaging.

"Especially in our food, we have a lot of plastic waste that we see even floating around in our oceans, for example, and our beaches," Dr Kemper said.

She says New Zealand needs more regulations.

"We can see a lot more initiatives being done in the European Union, for example, [such as] looking at reusing and more recyclable plastic."

A big reason it's been hard to get rid of plastic packaging has been food safety.

Countdown says plastic is really handy, but the industry needs to be much smarter and take it out where it can.

Countdown's Kiri Hannifin says the supermarket chain has pledged to only have reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

"What we've done this year is look at how it's actually packaged and we've removed 70 tonnes of plastic so far," Ms Hannifin said.

But Flight Plastics, which makes containers from recycled plastic, says it's concerning if alternatives such as recyclable plastic packaging isn't being made from New Zealand waste.

"If you're importing recycled material, it's not helping - it's just more plastic coming into the country. What we need to be doing is reusing what we've got here," says director Derek Lander.

Mr Lander said plastic can be good, there just needs to be more education around what can and cannot be recycled.

"It's a great product, it does a lot of good things - it just needs to be used properly."

A University of Auckland lecturer is warning New Zealand has fallen off the international pace. Source: 1 NEWS