Delivering sustainable solutions

Delivering sustainable solutions

As a member-led organisation, The Packaging Forum balances the need to represent its members’ interests with wide-ranging stakeholders, together with facilitating the development of viable, sustainable packaging solutions, and operating two of New Zealand’s most successful voluntary product stewardship schemes – the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme and the Glass Packaging Forum.

Rob Langford, CEO, The Packaging Forum, says that all members committed to a vision that by 2025 all packaging in New Zealand would be reusable, recyclable or compostable; and, to achieve this, organisations across the entire packaging supply-chain would need to collaborate to deliver viable commercial and sustainable solutions.

Since that pledge was made in 2021 there have been significant changes with new Government legislation and an ever-changing market environment making 2025 targets more challenging to achieve. The Forum’s focus has not changed with a commitment to researching and investing in innovative solutions to link material recovery and reuse with end-of-life solutions.

This also includes research into new global collection and processing technology, as well as identifying best practice examples of overseas stewardship programmes.

“We have been working with RECOUP in the UK for some time; and are new members of EXPRA – Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance, based in Brussels. We can learn from our peers in other markets to see what has worked for them. We are actively engaging with private and public sector kerbside collection trials for soft plastics across the UK to learn from their experience; and we are always sharing data and insights – in summary there’s a lot of networking to ensure we are at the top of our game, on behalf of our members,” says Rob.

The political panel at The Packaging Forum’s What’s Your Policy? hosted event; Lyn Mayes, Rob Langford and Kerre Woodham

Recently The Forum hosted a political panel discussion for its members and invited industry guests – “What’s your Policy? Election 2023 – which included the environmental spokespeople from the main political parties, including Angie Warren-Clark (Labour Party), Scott Simpson (National Party), Eugenie Sage (Green Party) and Simon Court (ACT Party).

“There’s been a lot of legislative changes announced this year which have a huge impact on our members’ businesses and their future planning – and some of these changes have resulted in more questions from industry, so naturally members were keen to quiz the politicians on these,” says Rob. “There were questions about current Government policy put to both Labour and the Greens; and also, to National and ACT on what their focus would be, and what they would change should they form part of the next Government post-Election 2023.”

“It was an incredibly engaging event, and it is something we will look to build on.”

The Forum’s two voluntary product stewardship schemes continue to develop and be future-focused. In the last year the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme collected 589 tonnes of post-consumer soft plastic – the equivalent to 75 million bags or wrappers recycled into around 50,000 posts. The Scheme continues to expand with the return of soft plastic recycling to the upper South Island with collections starting in Blenheim in late June. This has been made possible by Future Post opening a new manufacturing arm in Blenheim which will process all the soft plastic collected in the South Island.

Our SPRS members are increasingly part of the solution. Foundation member Cottonsoft has gifted “pre-loved” balers to Scheme partners in the Hutt, Auckland and Marlborough; and Goodman Fielder helps organise the transport of soft plastics from Christchurch up to the new Future Post plant. 

The Glass Packaging Forum (GPF), which is New Zealand’s only Government accredited voluntary product stewardship scheme for container glass, continues to advocate for an extended producer responsibility model for all glass packaging. The GPF’s work is focused on how it can improve circular glass outcomes. Work is currently underway to assess opportunities arising from the standardisation of kerbside recycling, how to increase glass recycling where comingled services are offered, as well as the infrastructure investment required. The Packaging Forum and its members continue to advocate strongly that glass packaging should be collected separately at kerbside and not commingled with other materials.   

In other work The Forum provides funds to support infrastructure to reduce the creation of waste (reuse and refill solutions) and public place recycling and rubbish solutions for communities and events. The Forum has invested in public place recycling and litter solutions since 2010, and continues to offer grants to organisations running programmes projects that help reduce litter and waste, and improve out-of-home recycling outcomes across the country.

“One of the Forum’s recent projects include helping Sustainable Waihi Beach install water fountain and bottle refill stations along Waihi Beach. Water readings indicate that in six months, over 5,000 single use plastic bottles were avoided. Another grant included the Thames Coromandel DC receiving support for a mobile recycling unit as an afterhours service for the new Whitianga Transfer Station enabling source separate collection of fibre, metals, and plastics.”

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