Harbour watchdog endorses plastics ban

The Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group — IKHMG — has given a ringing endorsement to growing action against plastics pollution, with bans on supermarket single-use plastic bags, and corporates signing up to the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration.

To mark World Environment Day on June 5, associate environment minister, Eugenie Sage, announced local and multinationals had vowed to eliminate non-recyclable plastics by 2025.

In another milestone, a government regulation to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads in New Zealand came into effect from June 7.

“We absolutely endorse the government moves with plastics a huge threat to the Kaipara Harbour and also to the tributaries from our catchment area of 647,000 hectares,” says IKHMG’s programme manager, William Wright. “It affects fish and bird life. The Kaipara is the source of 97 percent of west coast snapper stocks.”

Microbeads are considered a menace to aquatic and marine environments as they can pass through filter systems. They are too small to retrieve or recycle, do not biodegrade, and consumed by marine life, cause long-term damage.

It is estimated about 10,000 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used globally each year, usually for exfoliation or polishing purposes. About 100 personal care products in New Zealand contain the tiny plastic beads.

The new ban is intended to eliminate two types of microbead-containing products — wash-off cosmetics such as facial and body exfoliants, toothpaste and heavy-duty hand cleansers and abrasive cleaning products, including household, car or industrial cleaning products.

Before the ban was approved by cabinet, a total of 16,223 submissions were received. 
All the submissions either supported the proposed ban or supported it in part. None were opposed.


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