Designing a legacy for end-of-life plastic packaging 

22.12.22 11:53 AM By WasteMINZ

Pictured: The wider PPPS project team, together with Hon David Parker (from l to r) Mike Pretty, Cameron Scott, Hon David Parker, Lyn Mayes, Rob Langford, Malcolm Everts, Tony Nowell

Is there a more effective and efficient way to collect used plastic packaging? That’s the question a new product stewardship project is aiming to answer. We delve into the details of the project with The Packaging Forum CEO Rob Langford. 

Read the article in magazine format here

Over the next two years, The Packaging Forum (PF) and the NZ Food & Grocery Council (NZFGC) will be working with organisations across the plastic packaging supply chain to develop a product stewardship model that best fits the New Zealand priority product criteria and will deliver a best practice scheme.

Announced by Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker, in September, the two organisations will jointly lead the project to co-design a Plastic Packaging Product Stewardship Scheme for New Zealand.

The project will deliver the research, data collation, analysis, and discussion to identify the most fitting product stewardship scheme for New Zealand. Ultimately, the project will look at how plastic is currently collected – or not – and whether there is a more efficient and effective way to do this.

CEO of The Packaging Forum, Rob Langford, says this is industry’s opportunity to leave a genuine legacy for New Zealand, for future generations.

“As industry, we have a responsibility to deal with the end-of-life recovery for packaging. It is also important that producers are actively engaged and are involved in leading the project because they are responsible for the choices made around plastic packaging.”

NZFGC Chair, Mike Pretty says his organisation recognises the need for industry to show leadership, and to be a part of the project.

“Both organisations bring huge expertise in this area to the table, and we look forward to putting that to good use.

“The time for such a scheme is now.

“NZFGC members have a mantra that if we are part of the problem then we’ll work hard to be part of the solution, and that’s what we are doing.”

Both organisations have considerable experience in facilitating industry-led solutions. PF has more than a decade’s experience with the development and management of voluntary product stewardship schemes for glass packaging, soft plastic, and public place recycling/litter. NZFGC is part of a global leadership group on product stewardship, and directly engaged in the Australian Food & Grocery Council’s research to design a soft plastic product stewardship scheme in Australia.

Tony Nowell CNZM, has been appointed the project’s independent Chair and will oversee project management, governance, and delivery of the project. Supporting him will be Rob  as project manager, and Lyn Mayes as project coordinator. Both have extensive experience in project management, and setting up and operating product stewardship schemes.


“The Packaging Forum has real experience in delivering successful solutions to waste in New Zealand, having operated several product stewardship schemes over many years, such as the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme and the Glass Packaging Forum Scheme – both of these schemes demonstrate clearly how industry can voluntarily collaborate and succeed,” Rob says.


Given the project is a co-design process, consumer and community groups, government, producers, and processors will be involved in the decision-making process throughout the project.

Plastic packaging (excl. beverage containers) was declared a priority product under section 9 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 in July 2020. This means that a product stewardship scheme for plastic packaging must be developed and all producers of plastic packaging must be part of the scheme.  At this stage, all plastic packaging used for consumer goods sold via retail or wholesale will be included, as well as liquid paperboard and compostable plastic.

The end of the project will see the team recommend a not-for-profit, product stewardship organisation (PSO) structure, which is responsible for the delivery of the plastic packaging priority product scheme, and a scheme design that will be able to meet the requirements of the Waste Minimisation Act, including sections 12,14, and 15.

Learn more about the project here

About the author

Rob Langford, CEO of The Packaging Forum and project manager for the Plastic Packaging Product Stewardship Scheme (PPPS)

Rob has a passion for bringing people together to create solutions that deliver enduring sustainability outcomes - for our environment, communities, and our local economy. Rob’s skills were developed from technical and operational roles, where he broke down complex problems into simple, data driven and customer centric solutions.