Plastic plan a waste
Plastics campaigners and an Auckland artist busy creating a plastic art installation for World Environment Day were underwhelmed by the government’s “latest red herring” plan to tackle plastic pollution.
“We already have fantastic legislative tools available to tackle our plastic waste, like bottle deposits and a plastic bag ban, but the government just isn’t stepping up,” Kiwi Bottle Drive plastics campaigner Holly Dove said.
“Instead it’s allowing the industry that is creating the problem to provide false solutions and get away with the bare minimum. It’s a red herring, and it’s not the solution to our plastic problem.”
Ms Dove and a team of volunteers had spent the previous week helping Brydee Rood set up an art installation — a 14m wind sock made entirely of single-use plastic bags — on Auckland’s Eastern Viaduct for World Environment Day, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
“We were setting up this morning when we heard the news that the government had joined up with businesses to declare a commitment to tackle plastic, which sounded great at first, but I was saddened to hear how unambitious their vision was,” she said.
“Our art piece, which we’ve got installed for a whole week down at Auckland’s waterfront, was created to highlight the devastating effects of plastic on the environment, and to call on the government to take strong action on waste. This isn’t strong action. This is industry greenwash.”
According to last week’s declaration, all packaging will be recyclable or compostable by 2025, but it hadn’t addressed the biggest issue, which was collecting the material uncontaminated and in a state where it could be recycled, Dove says.
“We need systems in place to collect recyclable material, otherwise it will go into landfill, or worse, end up in our oceans, which is exactly what’s happening right now,” Ms Dove said.
“With more than a billion plastic bottles being produced globally each day, we need to be cutting down on plastic, not business as usual, where we’ll find bottles and bags, which are already recyclable anyway, still clogging up our oceans and communities in years to come.
“We’ve no time to waste on false solutions. Let’s bring in mandatory product stewardship and build a circular economy that encourages re-design, reuse, and industry responsibility.”
More than 30 countries had taken legislative action on single-use plastics by introducing bottle deposit schemes, which had led to recycling rates of 85 per cent-plus and reductions in litter of more than 65 per cent.
“Our government has failed to enact legislation, despite bottle deposits already being included in the Waste Minimisation Act 2008,” she said. “The solution is there — we just need to act on it.”
People Potential students Chyme Mane and Waitaha Yakas patronising the cake stall.
Brydee Rood installing her 14m artwork from plastic bags in Auckland.