Unwrapping the packaging problem
The New Zealand Government has announced its intention to regulate packaging stewardship schemes for priority products that include plastics, packaging, batteries and others.
“The aim is to move to a circular economy, which is a worthy goal and supported by the FGC,” says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich. “But the reality is that New Zealand is currently far away from achieving anything like it without major investment in collection and recycling capacity. Including all packaging is a major inclusion,” she says.
The announcement includes all beverage containers less than 4 litres (all materials), all single-use plastic FMCG packaging at retail or wholesale made of plastics 1- 7, which are not designed to be refilled.
The discussion document is on the Ministry for the Environment’s website https://www.mfe.govt.nz/consultations/priorityproducts.
The FGC will be making a submission and asks members to read the document and share their views with the FGC.
Leading the way with innovations
Meanwhile, many companies are already innovating to tackle the packaging problem head on. A Hawke’s Bay vegetable producer for example has become the first New Zealand grower to use home compostable netting for organic onions.
The move by Bostock New Zealand is the latest development by the company, to reduce its plastic packaging. It was the first New Zealand apple grower to trial compostable fruit stickers this year and has now moved its focus to its onions. Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says sustainable wood fibre packaging is an exciting environmental innovation.
“We want to lead the way in providing more environmentally friendly packaging in our industry. We grow our onions organically and do everything we can to grow them sustainably and protect the environment. Ensuring we carry our environmentally conscious practises through to our end products and the packaging is important.”
The netting is made from FSC-certified beechwood and will fully breakdown in a home compost, landfill and worm farm.
“The netting has a softer look and feel than harder plastic netting. The product can also be easily seen through the netting, making the product the hero, rather than the packaging. It’s important that our customers can see what they are buying.”
Bostock New Zealand is currently trialling the home compostable netting to package its large organic onions, which can be purchased in three packs in Countdown supermarkets throughout New Zealand.
“Organic onions are relatively new for Bostock New Zealand as they are challenging to grow. We cannot reach for any chemical sprays to kill the weeds, so each individual onion is hand weeded throughout the season,” says Bostock.
“Last year was the first time we sold organic onions in New Zealand and this year we were excited to export our first organic onions to Europe. We are increasing our organic footprint and are committed to providing New Zealanders with more organic choice too.”
The natural fibre nets also regulate humidity and moisture, so are excellent for packaging onions as they are breathable and moisture regulating.
The netting is certified home compostable to the European home compostable standard EN13432 and has the additional certification of being soil bio-degradable. This means the netting will break down within 90 days in a home compost.
“Moving to plastic free packaging comes at a cost. Compostable packaging is 30 percent more expensive than the price of plastic netting. We hope that our suppliers will be able to bring the price down to make it a more cost-effective packaging option for us and our New Zealand consumers.”