Companies and Plastic Use

Companies and Plastic Use

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Companies and Plastic Use


New Zealand has awoken to the existential threat of climate change after millennia of unsustainable human activities. Consequently, an incessant debate has erupted on the appropriate practices and procedures to curb climate change and conserve the environment. One of the highlights of this debate is whether companies should be forced to reduce their use of plastic. On the one hand, proponents agree and cite the adverse effects plastic has on the integrity of ecosystems. On the other hand, opposers cite the versatility of plastic and its cost-effectiveness in all stages of production. Exhaustively, plastic is a cost-effective solution for companies and also facilitates employment, generates government revenue and contributes to economic development. This paper first looks at the background of plastic use in New Zealand. The paper then discusses the reasons to support company plastic use in New Zealand. Next, the paper discusses the reasons to prohibit the use of plastic by companies in New Zealand. The paper finally explores viable solutions for sustainable plastic use in New Zealand.

Background on Plastic Use in New Zealand

Although New Zealand has made notable progress in reducing industrial and domestic plastic use, a considerable amount of plastic is still used in the country. Ecotricity NZ (2021) explains that every individual in New Zealand consumes approximately 31kgs of plastic every year. Moreover, only 5.58 kilograms of this plastic is recycled. Ecotricity NZ (2021) also points out that more than 97% of people in New Zealand have access to facilities that recycle glass, cans, plastics and other degradable materials. Such a juxtaposition of facts poses the question why there is s big discrepancy between plastic use and recycling. For the most part, this can be attributed to the profit motive of most companies in New Zealand. For instance, Ecotricity NZ (2021) explains that over 8,000 people in New Zealand are employed by the nation’s plastics industry. Moreover, the plastics industry in New Zealand is estimated to be worth an annual $1.8 billion. In other words, there are profits to be made for New Zealand companies in plastic use.

However, comparing the amount of waste produced by New Zealand and the percentage of which is plastic is interesting. Ecotricity NZ (2021) points out that over eight percent of the total waste produced by New Zealand is made up of plastic. However, because plastic is light, it is estimated to only take up less than 20% of the waste landfill space. Alarmingly, Ecotricity NZ (2021) explains that the discrepancy in plastic use and recycling rates means that plastic use in cities will double in the next decade. Ecotricity NZ (2021) exclaims that Auckland’s plastic use alone will double over the next ten years from 1.5 million tonnes to 3 million tonnes. Presented with these facts, it is discernible that plastic use in New Zealand requires an exhaustive debate on merits and demerits and ultimately, a way forward.

Reasons to Support Company Plastic Use

Plastic because it is a cheap and functional alternative during packaging, branding, and production for companies in New Zealand. According to Balmer & Heuclin (2020), the versatility of plastic is revered since it offers a cheap solution to a lot of needs. One can find plastic bags, straws, chairs, signage all made at a very cheap price acriss stores and supermarkets in New Zealand. Moreover, a study by Gray (2018) found that plastic is more than two times cheaper than other materials, increasing companies’ profitability. Likewise, Plastics for Change (2021) explains that plastic is recyclable, which oddly makes it an environmentally friendly item if adequately used. Similarly, plastic is durable and versatile, taking any shape or form during its production process. Therefore, for its cost-effectiveness, it is arguable that companies should not be forced to reduce their plastic use.

Furthermore, plastic use is a source of revenue and employment to many people in New Zealand. According to Ecotricity NZ (2021), over 8,000 people in New Zealand are employed by the plastic making industry. For these people, the income obtained helps to take care of them and their families. Furthermore, the fact that over 8,000 New Zealanders are employed by the plastic making industry means that the industry offers employment opportunities. On a bigger scale, the plastic industry in New Zealand is worth more than $1.8 billion. In other words, the activities of plastic making companies can be taxed by the government to provide more revenue for the provision of social and welfare services. Alternatively, the plastic industry contributes to economic development because it is an avenue for diversification of sectors in the New Zealand economy. For instance, the plastic making sector complements the agricultural sector, the banking sector, the retail sector and the manufacturing sector in contributing to the country’s Gross National Product (GDP). Therefore, because of the provision of employment opportunities, economic diversification and development, companies should not be banned from using plastics in New Zealand.

Reasons to Prohibit Company Plastic Use

Companies should be forced to reduce their use of plastic because plastic is made up of pollutants that compromise the integrity of the soil structure. Parker (2019) explains that it takes over 450 years for plastic to disintegrate. Such complexity means that solid plastic can remain in the soil for years, affecting aeration and water distribution in the ground. Strikingly, even after plastic degrades, Watts (2020) also explains that microplastics permeate the different soil layers and ultimately affect their chemical composition. As the chemical composition of the soil changes, it becomes harder for various plants to grow because of a loss of fertility (Watts, 2020). Ultimately, the soil may become barren, which may adversely affect the integrity of the ecosystem because the overreaching effects may spread to both plant and animal life in the area. Therefore, forcing companies to reduce their plastic use would alleviate soil pollution.

There should also be a reduction in the use of plastics by companies because creating these plastics releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Business Insider (2019) explains that most plastics require massive heat levels for production and recycling. In the process, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere (Parker, 2019). For example, coal is one of the most significant fuel sources used in factories that manufacture plastic. However, when coal is burned, National Geographic (2019) explains that excess carbon dioxide is produced, endangering the balance of gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, some factories use fossil fuels like petrol to obtain energy for the production of plastics. In most cases, burning fossil fuels results in carbon monoxide production, which is associated with the formation of acidic rain (National Geographic, 2019). Overall, the combination of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere is detrimental to the integrity of the earth’s ecosystem.


As more people in New Zealand wake up to the gravity of climate change, an ongoing debate on what can be done to curb it ensues. The reduction of plastic use is a central theme in this debate, with proponents citing plastic’s adverse effects on the ecosystem. At the same time, opposers point out the cost-effectiveness and versatility of plastic. However, even with plastic being cost-effective, a source of employment and revenue generation, companies should be forced to reduce its use because it causes soil pollution and escalates hazardous emissions. Presented with all the facts, it is important that the rates of plastic use and recycling should be aligned through the implementation of laws and policies. For millennia, the earth has prevailed as a self-sufficient ecosystem. Unless plastic use is regulated, the human may meet the same fate as the dinosaurs.


Balmer, E., & Heuclin, M. (2020). Plastic is light, versatile and here to stay—for now.

Business Insider. (2019). The one thing that makes recycling plastic work is falling apart – Business Insider. Business Insider; Business Insider.

Ecotricity NZ. (2021). Facts on plastic waste. Ecotricity NZ.

Gray, R. (2018). What’s the real price of getting rid of plastic packaging?; BBC Worklife.

National Geographic. (2019). Coal Burning, Fossil Fuels, Pollution – National Geographic. Environment.

Parker, L. (2019). Plastic pollution facts and information. National Geographic; National Geographic.

Plastics for Change. (2021). The Benefits Of Using Recycled Plastic. Plastics for Change.

Watts, J. (2020). Microplastic pollution devastating soil species, study finds. The Guardian.