Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa, New Zealand

After broad consultation, the first project that the Office will be working on is a synthesis of approaches to reduce the impact of plastic and to explore the opportunities and challenge for alternatives in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Juliet has assembled an initial panel who will finalise the scope of the work and contribute to assessing evidence across disciplines. Aspects of the work will include, but not necessarily be limited to, the range of plastics entering New Zealand and the range of social and technological solutions to issues in the plastic life cycle – from production through to consumer behaviour and disposal.

The panel to engage in scoping the project met on the 5th of February. Their initial task was to finalise the scope for the project.

In addition to a core panel, we are also maintaining a larger reference group, including academics with key specialities and skills and people in industry. They will assist us in making sure the advice is timely and relevant. We are also building contacts with local government and central government agencies. 


1. Meeting 1 – Agenda – 5 February 2019

2. Welcome and introduction to the plastics panel

3. Rethinking plastics in Aotearoa, NZ – initial project scope

Background resources

You can see our full list of project resources, references, etc, here.

Single-use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability  The UN report “Single-use plastics

The Sustainable Business Network’s report on the New Zealand’s Plastic Packaging System

New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action A report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation


We can all help with this project by starting to change the way we do things. The Ministry for the Environment has a useful page on recycling that covers plastics that is a great starting point.


Go to the MFE webpage…

Panel Members

Dr Diane Ruwhiu, University of Otago

Dr Elspeth MacRae, Scion

Assoc Professor Sarah McLaren, Massey University

Dr Niki Harre, University of Auckland

Assoc Professor Mark Staiger, University of Canterbury

Dr Bethanna Jackson, Victoria University of Wellington

Stephen Harris, Special Representative, Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance

Dr James Wright, University of Auckland

Dr Olga Pantos, ESR

Dr Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, Ministry for the Environment

and Abbie Reynolds, Business NZ.

Panel members and OPMCSA staff at the first panel meeting. From left to right: George Slim, Sarah McLaren, Bethanna Jackson, Olga Pantos, James Wright, Elspeth MacRae, Juliet Gerrard, Abbie Reynolds, Niki Harre, Mark Staiger, Diane Ruwhiu, Stephen Harris, Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke. Absent; Melanie Mark-Shadbolt.

A quick update

A quick update

Kia ora koutou, It has been a very busy month in our Office, with lots of activity on our various work streams, and some rapid reprioritisation to assist in collating an evidence base for those supporting recovery...

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Contact us about the “Rethinking Plastics” project

If you have any suggestions, or want to help, please get in contact with us at 

Researchers or academics who would like to be part of the reference group should contact their institutional contact for our office in the first instance. 


  Phone: + 64 9 923 6318

Mailing Address

Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142
New Zealand