Kiwi companies fighting against plastic food packaging by rethinking how they sell products

Food packaging is a major contributor to our plastic wastelands, but some Kiwis have had enough.

In Nelson, Aunt Jean’s Dairy’s milk is sold in glass bottles like the good old days.

“It’s infinitely more sustainable and milk from a glass bottle tastes great!” Aunt Jean’s Cathy Raine said.

Aunt Jean’s decided two years ago that less cash to line their pockets was worth ditching plastic packaging, so they collaborated with Auckland glass manufacturer O-I Glass New Zealand for a more environmentally conscious option.

“We work with a lot of brand owners and we see a lot more people wanting to understand sustainability and use that in their brand,” O-I Glass’ Bayard Sinnema said.

Ceres Organics has also jumped onboard by making changes to their packaging.

“‘Compostable’ can only be recycled in a council facility [and] ‘biodegradable’ will only break down into little pieces of plastic, but ‘home compostable’ means it can be composted at home and it’s a natural material,” Ceres Organics’ Noel Josephson said.

However, New Zealand food producers aren’t just repackaging for their own piece of mind.

“There’s demand from the consumer. They don’t want to see all of this waste. We get feedback at The Food Show about how much waste there is and where that is going,” The Food Show’s event manager Rebecca Stewart said.

Images of oceans covered in litter – like that of Bali and India – has become an impetus for a shift in thinking.

CaliWoods, which makes reusable stainless steel straws, says people were initially sceptical about the product.

“I launched here last year and people were saying, ‘Why would I use a reusable straw?’ This time, people are so much more aware of the plastic pollution problems.”

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