Polystyrene, cotton buds and some plastic cups may soon be a thing of the past if the Labour Party is voted back into government.
Today's policy announcement by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and spokesperson for the environment David Parker marks the next step in the party's effort to curb plastic pollution.
“New Zealanders are proud of our clean and green reputation and Labour is committed to taking the next steps to protect our environment from the harm of plastic waste,” said Ardern.
Currently Aotearoa is one of the biggest plastic waste polluters in the OECD, with 781kg per person of waste went to lands around the country in 2018 alone.
Under the scheme, a $50 million fund would be established to aid in efforts to develop environmentally sustainable alternatives for businesses in New Zealand while also providing new opportunities for manufacturers.
According to David Parker, grants and loans would be made available for researchers and businesses under the fund to help rethink New Zealand's approach to single-use and hard to recycle plastics.
"Stepping up our action against waste and developing non-plastic alternatives can also create jobs and support manufacturing here in New Zealand while safeguarding our reputation and protecting our environment from the plastic waste."
The fund will help to aid businesses in their transition away from single-use and hard to use plastics such as disposable coffee cups, straws (with exceptions to those with disabilities) and stickers on produce.
A further $124 million would be dedicated towards supporting waste infrastructure, including $35.7 million already pledged to creating state of the art recycling plants around the country.
Paid for under the country's waste levy which creates $276 million annually, the funds will be distributed evenly between council and government-led waste reduction projects.
A nationwide system for kerbside collection of plastic waste would also be standardised to provide further support to local councils.
The move will help to ease confusion for homeowners about how and what plastic products are eligible to be recycled.
However, National Party leader Judith Collins said today that she was unsure how the move would help benefit an economy devastated by Covid-19.
"I think that most people realise that single-use plastics are something that we're phasing out - no problem with that - but I do think that the biggest issue is actually about the 100,000 New Zealanders who are expected to lose their jobs in the next two years," she said.
"I'm not sure that's going to do that much for them ... I think they're going to be more concerned about that, frankly."