Time for us all to set good ex­am­ple

Whanganui Chronicle - - Opinion - Kate Hawkesby

Ifind my­self feel­ing sorry for the plas­tics in­dus­try. It’s in a race against time, try­ing to re­struc­ture it­self in a way that is ac­cept­able to the new world or­der of no plas­tic.

The back­lash against plas­tic isn’t new — but be­ing able to turn around the mas­sive amount of plas­tic used, and find fea­si­ble al­ter­na­tives, is a mas­sive job.

The in­dus­try’s be­ing asked to “de­sign out” un­nec­es­sary plas­tics and in­crease re­cy­clable con­tent. It’s not ar­gu­ing with this, but it takes time, and it’s a com­plex in­dus­try.

The task ahead of them is to find sys­tems and de­signs which meet the ev­er­in­creas­ing pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions, while also pre­vent­ing waste, not com­pro­mis­ing on hy­giene and keep­ing prices down for con­sumers.

The other con­cern is to be able to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing in New Zealand.

And what about all the jobs lost here? About 1700 work­ers and 70 busi­nesses could be af­fected by the Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to phase out sin­gle-use plas­tic bags.

Many may be un­able to keep op­er­at­ing, and many plas­tics-trained work­ers may need to re­train or find other work.

"It needs gov­ern­ment help, in­fra­struc­ture, and lots of tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion. "

And for the new pack­ag­ing we re­quire we’re also go­ing to need a new work­force to make that hap­pen — it’s es­ti­mated that the wider pack­ag­ing sec­tor will need al­most 12,000 ad­di­tional work­ers be­tween now and 2022.

So there’s a lot on the plas­tics in­dus­try’s plate. It needs gov­ern­ment help, in­fra­struc­ture, and lots of tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion. I don’t envy the job.

But how can we help? Be­cause we have to play our part too, of course.

The dump­ing of waste and drop­ping of litter is still a ma­jor prob­lem, de­spite all the virtue sig­nalling and calls for a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment.

It’s one thing to want to live in a pris­tine, clean, green coun­try, but it does mean ev­ery­one needs to do their bit. Is so­ci­ety ready to em­brace the change and help make it hap­pen?

I won­dered this as I drove be­hind a car the other day whose driver ca­su­ally tossed rub­bish out of his car win­dow.

The re­al­ity is, if card­board and sus­tain­able re­cy­clable prod­ucts are go­ing to hap­pen, we need to step up too.

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