Goodbye single-use plastic, hello reusable or paper alternatives

Publish Date : 30 Jun 2023
Plastic Free Infographic

From Saturday 1 July 2023, the sale and manufacture of many single-use plastic products are being banned, restricted or phased out.

Bans or restrictions apply to the sale and supply of these single-use plastic items:

  • Drinking straws
  • Cutlery
  • Bowls, trays and platters without lids
  • Produce bags used to pack fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Produce labels.

The ban applies where items are sold or supplied for free, and where they are provided individually or in packets. Compostable or ‘plant-based’ plastic alternatives are also banned for all items, except produce labels.

Coinciding with Aotearoa New Zealand’s ban on single-use plastic, 1 July is also the start of Plastic Free July – a global movement that shares solutions so we can all take action and reduce plastic pollution.

As we start Plastic Free July, let’s look at the reasons our nationwide ban on single-use plastics is best for our wildlife, our environment and even our health.

Why do we need a ban on single-use plastics?

As litter, plastic pollutes our environment and contaminates our food and water. It can enter our waterways and travel out to sea, where seabirds or turtles can swallow it or be entangled in it. Even when plastic breaks down, it doesn’t go away – it becomes small particles called microplastics that negatively impact our wildlife and our food chain.

Many plastic products are designed to be used only once before being thrown away. Shifting away from single-use plastics will help reduce plastic waste, improve our recycling systems and protect our environment. With the help of this change Aotearoa New Zealand will avoid sending hundreds of millions of single-use plastic items to landfill each year.

Why not just recycle single-use plastic?

Plastic cannot be recycled endlessly, eventually it weakens and cannot be made into new products so it’s best to avoid single-use plastic where we can.

New Zealand’s recycling infrastructure is improving but currently cannot accommodate all the plastic we are consuming. Central government is working to increase the country’s recycling capacity but until then, some of our recycling is sent offshore. It’s not fair to outsource our recycling issues to other countries, not to mention the emissions generated from shipping our recyclable materials across the globe.

By reducing plastic use entirely, we can also reduce our carbon footprint as most plastics are made from oil and gas. This means greenhouse gases are released during extraction, production, transportation, and recycling of plastics.

What are the alternatives to single-use plastic?

Practical alternatives are available for most of the single-use plastic products being banned or phased out. Alternatives include reusable items such as metal cutlery and straws, reusable containers and cups. Many supermarkets are offering reusable produce bags or paper bags.

While single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics are being phased out, there are grades of plastic that can be used as they are easier to recycle. They are grades 1, 2 and 5 – look for the recycling symbol with the number in the centre. These can be placed in your Auckland Council kerbside recycling bin. We accept plastic bottles and containers from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry made from these grades.

Plastic Free July

For the month of July, join millions of people across the world reducing their plastic waste and be part of the solution to plastic pollution.

Be one of the hundreds of thousands of people in Aotearoa New Zealand taking part in the challenge and make a real difference by finding alternatives to plastic at home or at work.

From 1 July, Auckland Libraries will no longer cover its paperback books with plastic. Not only will this divert old plastic covers from landfill, but it will also save an astonishing $350,000 a year.

Commit to avoiding plastic or disposable items when shopping, eating takeaways or getting your morning coffee at your favourite café. Or challenge your workplace to go plastic-free. For more practical ideas check out Plastic Free July on the Waste Nothing website.

Kirihou kohe kawea ake!
Plastic free take up the challenge!

More information on Aotearoa New Zealand’s nationwide ban of single-use plastics, specific exemptions and alternative products for businesses and organisations can be found on the Ministry of Environment’s website Guidance on single-use plastic products banned or phased out from July 2023 or email 

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