To: Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker and Minister for Trade Hon Damien O’Connor
Tax the use of virgin plastics in manufacturing and imports
We are calling on the government to tax the import and production of virgin plastics, and funnel that income into subsidizing the use of recycled plastics which will help us see more plastic being recycled, less money traveling into the hands of oil producers, and less plastic in our landfills.
Why is this important?
Plastic is a highly recyclable material. However, the vast majority (around 90%) ends up in landfills. And that's because recycling costs money, and in the end, virgin plastics end up being cheaper. If we want to make a difference in this pollution epidemic, we need to work it at the source... Money.
Plastic pollution has become a massive issue for New Zealand and the planet. But the issue lies in the economics of recycling it: it's simply not profitable. By shifting the tides, even just a little bit, towards the use of recycled plastics, we can drive local entities towards making greater efforts to fight this war on pollution. We can also ensure that there is large, bold labelling of plastic types so consumers are able to sort their recyclables with greater ease and accuracy.
It's important because we're currently using little plastic bags that last for 200 years as single use packagings for things like instant rice. The problem of plastic recycling and its longevity have been on peoples minds since around the 50s until the oil industry convinced the general public that it'd all be recycled. In 2016, next to all of the plastic recycling stopped because China stopped taking it, so now we've got to come up with long-term strategies to avoid massive plastic pollution, and all the health and ecological repercussions that come with that.
Not only would taxing virgin plastic imports and production change the economics of recycling, it also addresses a party that has been getting away with poisoning New Zealand's land, waters, and people for over 50 years. Perhaps they deserve a very high tax, but that's up to the policymakers.
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