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Greenpeace warns that today’s announcement of the “Beat Plastic Pollution” declaration is an industry-led false solution for tackling the scourge of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Today, World Environment Day, 12 local and international businesses signed a declaration to tackle plastic pollution by committing to using 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in their New Zealand operations by 2025 or earlier, as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.

“The crucial word missing in that pledge is ‘reduction,” says Emily Hunter, Greenpeace NZ Oceans Campaigner.

“We need to be wary of pledges like this that sound good, but in reality allow the rise of plastic packaging production in our lives and our oceans, all while companies pose as green leaders,” says Hunter.

Greenpeace warns that commitments on making plastic packaging recyclable and compostable will do little to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and that companies and government need to focus on reductions and eliminations of single-use plastics production if they are serious about tackling this issue.

There is a rubbish truck full of plastic entering our oceans every minute, with plastic packaging use predicted to double by 2020 and quadruple by 2050, while globally, the level of recycling is only around 14% — it’s clear we cannot recycle our way out of this problem.

“Pledges like this ignore the stark reality of what’s happening in this country – we’ve got plastic waste being stockpiled by councils with no place to go, there are no industrial-scale composting facilities for bioplastic and there are no bans on plastic bags, cutlery and other easy-to-eliminate plastic pollution. If we don’t eliminate and significantly reduce plastic packaging and single use plastics this problem won’t be fixed,” says Hunter.

Greenpeace applauds companies that are beginning to eliminate single-use plastics from their shelves, like Countdown’s announcement today that they are eliminating plastic straws, and several national retailers implementing plastic bag bans this year.

However, Greenpeace warns that global corporations that have signed the “Beat Plastic Pollution” declaration today — including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestlé – are some of the top contributors to single-use plastic pollution worldwide and here in New Zealand. New data from waste and brand audits conducted in five Philippine cities confirm results of earlier coastal clean-up audits that multinational brands are the country’s top sources of plastic pollution.

Greenpeace is calling on the New Zealand Government to enact a plastic pollution strategy, that starts with a comprehensive ban on plastic bags and moves into eliminating other avoidable single-use plastics, like straws, cutlery and stir sticks, and then set up nationwide container deposit scheme to ensure better collection with drink bottles.

“It’s time for the New Zealand government to step-up as a leader on the plastic crisis, and not fall for false solutions.”