Packaging Sustainability

A reminder to all Suppliers that as part of the Waste Minimization Act the Government is phasing out certain hard-to-recycle plastics and single use items in three tranches.

The first set of items and plastic that were phased out happened on the 1st of October 2022. In the lead-up to the first tranche of phaseouts we successfully remove plastic stirrers , plastic stemmed earbuds, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene takeaway packaging and eradicate plastics that contained any pro-degradants.

The second tranche of phase out had a deadline of 1st of July 2023 and will mark the removal of single use plastic produce bags, cutlery, bowls , plates and plastic straws and plastic produce labels from the New Zealand market.

The third tranche of phase outs is planned for mid-2025 and will affect all other PVC and polystyrene food and drink packaging.

For more details on the pending changes please visit Phasing out hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics | Ministry for the Environment

 Key contact: Debra Goulding (FSNZ)

Foodstuffs is committed to improving packaging sustainability in Aotearoa New Zealand

As one of the first retailers in New Zealand to sign up to the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration in June 2018, we are working towards 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable retail (used in-store e.g. fresh departments) and private label (Pams, Value and Gilmours) packaging by 2025. This commitment is extended to all packaging types e.g. plastic, fibre, glass, metal.

Product stewardship and circular design - making sure resources are used again and again in other products – is also a priority for us. We are proud to work collaboratively to help bring stores, suppliers and customers with us on this journey.

To guide our work programme, we have developed 10 Sustainable Packaging Principles and we are actively encouraging our suppliers to move in this direction with us.

We have been busy taking stock of the packaging used and sold across our business, working with suppliers on improvements and rolling out in-store initiatives to 'remove', ‘reduce' and 'reuse'. Check out our sustainability milestones here.

Foodstuffs 10 Packaging Principles 

First things first! Consider opportunities to remove, reduce and reuse packaging before specifying materials towards recycling and composting end of life pathways.

1. Specification (a). Remove and reduce unnecessary packaging.

2. Specification (b). Reduce the weight of packaging by changing the product design or package design where functionally feasible e.g. through support of concentrates. Simplify packaging materials to single types where possible. Avoid, where feasible, laminates, composites and coatings. Incorporate disassembly instructions where necessary.

3. Design for reuse. Where appropriate, design packaging so that it can be reused for the same purpose for which it was conceived e.g. product refills; and support the adoption and scaling of reusable systems that minimise single-use packaging.

4. Reduce plastics. Where functionally appropriate, transition to fibre-based renewable materials from sustainable sources that can be recycled at kerbside and/or composted at home.

5. Plastics selection. Where plastic is necessary, prioritise widely recyclable polymer types. For rigid plastics, prioritise clear plastics Type 1 & 2 as these are recyclable through kerbside collections in NZ and if functionally necessary e.g. hot fill, use Type 5. For soft plastics, align material selection with requirements set by the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme and the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) managed by Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation. Do not use plastics Type 3 & 6.

6. Recycled content. Specify the maximum amount of post-consumer recycled content feasible. i.e. specify % of rPET, rHDPE, etc.

7. Bioplastics. Do not use oxo-degradable plastics. Avoid all ‘bio-degradable’ plastics. Avoid all rigid ‘commercially compostable’ bioplastics. Only use HOME compostable bioplastics when there is minimal risk of them entering the recycling system and ensure compostability claims are current and substantiated by an accredited certifier. ‘Drop-ins’ (renewable bioplastic alternatives to petroleum-based feedstock) should be recyclable in New Zealand.

8. Avoid hazards. Avoid or minimise the use of materials that are potentially hazardous to the environment or to human health including: Heavy metals in packaging, inks and pigments; Elemental chlorine for bleaching paper; Phthalates; Bisphenol A (BPA) and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging.

9. Educate consumers. Include messaging in packaging design to advise consumers the correct method of post use disposal in accordance with New Zealand waste industry standards, i.e. Australasian Recycling Label.

10. Sustainable suppliers. Communicate the desire that all suppliers adopt the Foodstuffs 10 Packaging Principles to improve the environmental performance of their packaging. On request, Suppliers must be able to provide substantiation of any claims made.

(Launched July 2018, updated May 2021)

Key contact: Debra Goulding (FSNZ)

Supplier guidance and expectations

We encourage our suppliers to review their packaging and implement improvements over time. This applies to our fresh suppliers, grocery suppliers and packaging suppliers.

Foodstuffs acknowledges that packaging serves an important role in FMCG to protect goods, extend shelf-life and communicate information to customers. This said, it is important that packaging is designed with end-of-life outcomes and the New Zealand system in mind. Packaging volume reductions should be top priority, meaning unnecessary packaging is eliminated.

Foodstuffs has partnered with the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) to establish the Plastic Packaging Circular Innovation Programme. In 2019 we ran three interactive masterclasses with suppliers, policy makers and innovators to help find circular solutions and demystify sustainable packaging. Outputs from Eliminate, Circulate and Innovate Masterclasses have now been published and are available to suppliers. We recently completed the 2020 Masterclass in October, which navigated data for decision-making, reuse models, soft plastics and compostables.

Packaging sustainability considerations are included within the Merchandise team NPD and category review process. Please ensure due diligence is carried out prior to presenting product – claims (including end-of-life and material composition) must be able to be substantiated. In general, we have an ‘avoid’ position on bioplastics with few exceptions.

Key contacts: Andrea Gent (FSSI) and Rachel Carter (FSNI)

Supply chain and logistics packaging

There are many opportunities for tertiary packaging improvements in the supply chain:

  • Reusable crates – reduce cardboard volumes in produce, ambient and protein categories
  • Retail ready half pallets – reduce secondary and tertiary packaging, labour and heavy lifting though pre-stacked pallets wheeled into position on the retail floor
  • Reusable pallet nets – reusable alternative to pallet wrap
  • Lightweight pallet wrap – substantially reduce volumes
  • Insulation alternatives – move away from expanded polystyrene to fibre

Key contact: Emma Harding

Further information

Learn more about sustainable packaging with the following links:

Navigating bioplastics

Sustainable Business Network Plastic Packaging Circular Innovation Programme

  • Masterclass outputs specific to NZ available here, and free to download.
  • Packaging design brief resource developed by Marx Design
  • Case study in Rethinking Plastics report by Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor
  • Covid-19 and plastic packaging webinar

 Additional information