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New Zealand seeks greater plastics independence

New Zealand – A NZ$ 700 000 (US$ 460 000) grant will help fund a three-year trial of a new shopping bag recycling service in Auckland that will reduce New Zealand’s need to import virgin plastic polymers.

The country’s environment minister Nick Smith is championing a new recycling infrastructure that is expected to provide plastic waste drop-off locations for 70% of all inhabitants ‘within 20 kilometres of their home’, he says. ‘This is a more sensible approach than a ban or a compulsory levy on just plastic shopping bags.’

He estimates that such bags make up ‘only 0.2% of waste going to landfill, and only 10% of plastic waste’. Previous schemes of a similar nature enabled ‘thousands of tonnes’ of plastic to be diverted from landfill, Smith adds. New Zealand uses around 1 billion shopping bags every year.

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