Kate Hawkesby is the host of Early Edition on Newstalk ZB, Monday to Friday from 5am – 6am.

Kate Hawkesby: Now that plastic's not fantastic we all have a part to play

COMMENT: I find myself feeling sorry for the plastics industry.

It's in a race against time, trying to restructure itself in a way that is acceptable to the new world order of no plastic.

The backlash against plastic isn't new - but being able to turn around the massive amount of plastic used, and find feasible alternatives, is a massive job.

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The industry's being asked to 'design out' unnecessary plastics and increase recyclable content, it's not arguing with this, but it takes time, and it's a complex industry.

The task ahead of them is to find systems and designs which meet the ever-increasing public expectations, while also preventing waste, not compromising on hygiene and keeping prices down for consumers.

The other concern is to be able to keep manufacturing in New Zealand.

And what about all the jobs lost here?

About 1700 workers and 70 businesses could be affected by the Government's decision to phase out single-use plastic bags.

Many may be unable to keep operating, and many plastics trained workers may need to retrain or find other work.

And for the new packaging we require we're also going to need a new workforce to make that happen - it's estimated that the wider packaging sector will need almost 12,000 additional workers between now and 2022.

So there's a lot on the plastics industry's plate. It needs government help, infrastructure, and lots of technical innovation. I don't envy the job.

But how can we help? Because we have to play our part too of course.

The dumping of waste and dropping of litter is still a major problem, despite all the virtue signalling and calls for a better environment.

It's one thing to want to live in a pristine clean green country, but it does mean everyone needs to do their bit. Is society ready to embrace the change and help make it happen?

I wondered this as I drove behind a car the other day whose driver casually tossed rubbish out of his car window.

So yes we do all want cardboard and sustainable recyclable products to help move us forward in theory - but the reality is, if it's going to happen, we need to step up too.

- NZ Herald

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