Biodegradable and compostable plastics in the environment

July 2018

A significant amount of plastic ends up in the environment, where it can be highly persistent. Public concern about plastic is increasing around the world, including here in New Zealand. The level of concern has created a fertile climate for the promotion of plastics that are said to be environmentally friendly. These include biodegradable, degradable or compostable plastics.

The science behind these products is complex, and the array of environmental claims being made about plastic packaging might easily lead to misunderstandings.

For this reason, the Commissioner decided to initiate a small enquiry to understand the nature of the claims being made. 

The results of that enquiry are now available in the form of an online question-and-answer resource, accompanied by two supporting infographics, which you will find below.

This material is designed to help concerned consumers navigate some of the terminology and the claims being made.  But the Commissioner has also urged the Government to step in and take a lead to help clarify the facts. Click here to read his letter to the Associate Minister for the Environment, Hon Eugenie Sage.


Infographic one (click to enlarge):


Infographic two (click to enlarge):

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Biodegradable and compostable plastics in the environment

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Download FAQs [PDF]

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