As of the 1st of July 2023, the following products will be banned or phased out,
- plastic produce bags
- plastic plates, bowls and cutlery
- plastic straws*
- plastic produce labels
*Plastic straws will be available for disabled people and medical use.
Single-use plastic drinking straws
Banning plastic straws is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, plastic straws contribute significantly to the global plastic pollution crisis. They are one of the top single-use plastic items found in oceans and waterways, posing a severe threat to marine life and ecosystems. By banning plastic straws, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our environment, safeguarding the delicate balance of ecosystems and protecting marine species from harm.
By embracing sustainable alternatives like paper, metal, or biodegradable straws, we can promote a shift towards more eco-friendly practices and support New Zealand's goal of being Zero Waste by 2050.
Single-use plastic drinking straws will still be available to some people
Disabled people and those with health conditions (or someone acting on their behalf) will still be able to access and use single-use plastic drinking straws if they need them.
Plastic straws may be needed for a nutrition reason, independence and/or social inclusion. Alternatives aren’t always suitable or safe and can be more expensive and difficult to clean.
Alternatives to single-use plastic drinking straws are widely available and include:
- reusable straws (eg, metal and silicon)
- paper straws
- going without a straw altogether.
Single-use plastic tableware and cutlery
Banned tableware includes single-use plastic bowls, plates and platters.
Banned cutlery includes single-use forks, spoons, teaspoons, knives and chopsticks. It also includes cutlery that is integral to the packaging of a food product (eg, cutlery sold with single-serve ice cream or salad packs).
What's not included:
- plastic containers (ie, a plastic bowl or a plate that is part of a container with a lid. Note: polystyrene bowls and containers with lids (plastic type 6) have already been banned
- plastic items that are not used for eating or preparing food (eg, measuring spoons or scoops such as those provided with medicine, supplements, infant formula or washing powder)
- tableware made of other materials (eg, paper, bamboo or sugarcane pulp) that is plastic lined
- single-use plastic cups, except those made from expanded polystyrene which were banned in October 2022.
Alternatives to single-use plastic tableware and cutlery are widely available and include:
- reusable tableware or cutlery (eg, ceramic, stainless steel, melamine plastic)
- paper or bamboo tableware or cutlery — ideally without intentionally added Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
Single-use plastic produce bags
The ban on plastic produce bags builds on the existing bans we saw in 2019 and is a significant step forward for our environment and overall sustainability. Plastic bags have long been a major contributor to pollution, clogging our landfills, polluting our oceans, and causing harm to wildlife. By implementing a further ban to include single-use produce bags, we are reducing the production and consumption of these single-use bags, which often end up as litter in our communities. This move encourages the adoption of reusable alternatives, such as cloth or paper bags, which are more durable and have a significantly lower environmental impact.
Definition of banned product
Single-use plastic produce bags are unsealed plastic bags that are provided by the store or retailer to pack fresh fruits and vegetables at a place of purchase.
This ban includes single-use plastic produce bags made of:
- recyclable plastic
- biodegradable plastic
- plant-based or compostable plastic.
There are no exemptions to the ban on single-use plastic produce bags.
What's not included
The regulations do not ban single-use plastic bags if they are part of the packaging for pre-packaged produce.
Pre-packaged means fruit or vegetables that are bagged (sealed or not sealed) before being put on sale.
On this basis, the ban does not include a plastic bag that is or forms an integral part of, the packaging. Examples include pre-packaged lettuce, a sealed bag of apples, a sealed bag of potatoes or sugar snap peas, leafy greens and herbs in a plastic sleeve.
The following alternatives may be used:
- Fibre-based (paper) produce bags. The Ministry recommends that all fibre-based products are free from Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Reusable produce bags that are not single-use.
- You can also go without a bag altogether when picking out produce to purchase.
Non-home compostable plastic produce labels
Non-compostable plastic produce labels are labels adhered to fruit or vegetables that are made from any material that does not meet a home compostable standard.
These small adhesive labels might seem insignificant, but they have a significant environmental impact. This ban mainly affects growers and producers, as they will need to explore alternative methods of labeling their products. However, it is important for the public to be aware of this change as well, as it reinforces the importance of sustainable practices and encourages us as consumers to make informed choices about the produce we purchase.