Rethinking Plastics – Case Studies

Search through our series of case studies demonstrating best practice, challenges and opportunities related to rethinking plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Controlled plastic decomposition

Plastics are made by joining monomers together to form long flexible chains in a process known as polymerisation. The strength of the bonds formed between monomers is what makes the plastics persis… Read More

Recyclable shoes

As part of its recent pledge to use only recycled plastics by 2024, Adidas revealed a new sneaker made from 100% recyclable materials. Driven by a connection to environmental organisation Parley for… Read More

Operation Clean Sweep

Plastic pellets, or nurdles, are the raw material of the plastics manufacturing industry. They are commonly found in beach and river clean ups. The plastic manufacturing industry in Aotearoa New Zea… Read More

Incentivising use of recycled plastic

The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) in the US established the ‘Recycling Demand Champions’ initiative to make plastic recycling a mature and stable market. The aim is that by having company… Read More

Saying no to single-use coffee cups

A spill-over effect of the recent single-use plastic shopping bag ban is that many people who have now adopted the practice of taking reusable bags to shops are making other efforts to avoid single… Read More

Reducing cigarette butt litter

Cigarette butts account for 78% of all items littered in Aotearoa New Zealand and these are the most commonly found item in beach litter clean ups. A significant proportion of people who litter ciga… Read More

Reuse systems in global supply chains

The process of getting products and packaging to supermarket shelves is largely out of sight and out of mind for many people. However, within supply chains there is both significant use of plastic… Read More

The Australasian Recycling Label

The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) is an evidence-based standardised system that provides easy to understand disposal instructions for each part of a product’s packaging. The Australian Packagi… Read More

Using mixed plastics in new materials

There are an increasing number of initiatives worldwide that are using waste plastic as components of building and construction materials. Incorporating plastics into roads is becoming more common… Read More

Should wine bottles be plastic?

In LCAs of wine, the analysis extends from growing grapes through to winemaking, and on to distribution, consumption and end-of-life management of the empty wine bottle. The production and transport… Read More

The Pure Tour

The PURE (Plastic Use Resistance Education) tour was a collaborative project between Massey University, the Algalita Foundation of California, Para Kore, Okeanos and the Los Angeles-5 Gyres Institu… Read More

Microplastics from our clothing

Scion’s study of microparticles in waterways in the Auckland region identified 87% of microparticles were fibres.[1] Our clothing is a major source of microplastic pollution and we need effective… Read More

Palmerston North City Council recycling

Palmerston North City Council collects over 4,000 tonnes of recycling from the Palmerston North kerbside collection service and owns their own MRF, which receives recycling from Horowhenua City Coun… Read More

Agricultural plastic waste

Assessments of plastic waste in the agricultural industry have been performed by GHD for the Environment Canterbury Regional Council in 2013 and the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils in 2… Read More

Litter Intelligence

Sustainable Coastlines developed Litter Intelligence – a citizen science-based initiative to measure litter on Aotearoa New Zealand’s coastlines and collate data in a national coastal litter databa… Read More

Our vision

Our panel imagined a future of what plastic use could look like in Aotearoa New Zealand, which set the stage for Rethinking Plastics.


Our recommendations that follow reflect the scale of the plastics problem that Aotearoa New Zealand currently faces. There is no silver bullet to fix this issue – we need to pull every lever.

Plastic resource portal

A central resource for information on plastics across the entire value chain, including the effects of plastic pollution.

At a glance summary

Two-page summary of the findings

Key messages

40-page summary of the key messages

Full report

The long and detailed full report


All infographics developed for this report


  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