Microplastic Pollution

Retailers operating in New Zealand should be aware that certain hard-to-recycle packaging and single-use plastic products are now banned.

From 1 October 2022, it is illegal to provide, sell or manufacture the following plastic products in Aotearoa New Zealand:

Single-use plastic drink stirrers (all plastic types)

Definition: A single-use plastic drink stirrer is any beverage stirrer made wholly or partly of plastic, including compostable and biodegradable plastic, designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away.

Single-use plastic cotton buds (all plastic types)

Definition: Single-use plastic cotton bud has a stem made wholly or partly of plastic with cotton wool (or synthetic fibre) wrapped around one or both ends, or has a non-plastic stem with synthetic fibre wrapped around one or both ends. They are designed to be used once or a limited number of times before being thrown away.

Exemptions: Can be manufactured and sold when used for medical or scientific purposes

Plastics with pro-degradant additives (subset of plastic type 7)

Definition: Plastic products with pro-degradant additives added to them (e.g., oxo and photo degradable plastics). Pro-degradant additives cause products to fragment into smaller plastic pieces (microplastics).

Certain PVC food trays and containers (plastic type 3)

Definition: Pre-formed trays and containers that contain any PVC (plastic type 3) or polyvinylidene dichloride (PVdC) when they are used for products including:

– Meat, fish, poultry, or any substitute of those including fresh, preserved or frozen
– Fresh produce
– Baked goods.

Polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging (plastic type 6)

Definition: Polystyrene (plastic type 6) used to package ready-to-eat food and beverages including:

  • Trays
  • Takeaway containers
  • Clamshells and bowls
  • or any other form of polystyrene packaging which is filled with food or beverage at a retailer but not manufactured there.
Expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging (plastic type 6)

Definition: Food and beverage packaging made from expanded polystyrene (plastic type 6) and sold at retail. This includes pre-formed expanded polystyrene products (eg, food service ware) and form-fill-seal EPS packaging (eg, expanded polystyrene instant noodle cups).


Summary of plastic resin identification codes




National Retail Association role

The National Retail Association has been engaged as an external consultant for the Ministry for the Environment to support the delivery of Tranche 1 and 2 of the Aotearoa New Zealand Single-Use Plastic Ban.

If you have questions, contact the plastic phase-out team at plastics@mfe.govt.nz.