2023 has been an interesting year on many fronts. It’s been a real ‘mixed bag’ for the industry, with some of our members doing extremely well, while many others found it challenging.

External factors such as the election, changing government, evolving regulations, and conflicts in Europe and the Middle East haven’t helped. Despite these hurdles, the industry’s mood is positive when looking forward to 2024, with activity already starting to pick up in some sectors.

So much has happened this year, and I have to admit to struggling slightly with what to recap for 2023!  

  • Katy Constance, our new Circular Economy Manager, has excelled at diving into the deep end and running our Waste Minimisation Funded circular economy program. CircularConnect, our design advisory service, has seen some fantastic co-funded projects roll through, and we’re starting to see emerging case studies. Our national working groups on lids & caps, EPS stewardship, and construction & demolition waste have also had excellent participation, with those involved actively driving for improvements and practical change.
  • Kelly Buchanan-Johns, our Membership Services Manager, and the South Island Branch organised an excellent conference in Christchurch this year. The speakers were engaging and both a lot of learning, and fun, were had by all. We also celebrated the amazing milestone achieved by Morris Watson of attending 50 conferences in a row. I’m looking forward to joining you all in Rotorua in May 2024, hosted by the Waikato Branch. Early-bird registrations open this week!
  • Simon Wilkinson, our Environmental Projects Manager, has done a great job with Operation Clean Sweep in 2023. Not only has Simon secured funding from Auckland Council which will enable more companies to be audited, and refresh of the OCS resources, but he also carried out a review of OCS. This will enable us to revamp and strengthen the program in the future. We also had our inaugural OCS Cleanup Week. Watch this space for 2024!
  • Plastics NZ has become the ‘go-to’ and subject-matter-expert for national and local government officials, and many other stakeholders across the plastics ecosystem. This keeps us busy as our advocacy ranges from international matters with the UN global plastics treaty and IMO dangerous goods work, to local environmental matters relating to plastics, through to broader matters such as training, immigration, and standards de-jointing. Advocacy equals education in many cases and my #1 priority across all areas is to ensure stakeholders understand the importance of the plastics industry and local plastics manufacturing to the New Zealand economy.

Looking forward into the future:

  • Our WMF Funded circular economy program will run until the end of June 2024. We will close off applications for co-funded CircularConnect projects prior to this to allow for project completion and reporting. Be sure to get in quick so you don’t miss out!
  • Many of the key topics from this year will be ongoing in terms of government engagement. For example, the global treaty, discussions at the IMO regarding additional shipping regulations for plastics, vocational training reforms (again …. sigh), resource recovery, and product stewardship. We will see the discussion on recycled content safety in food & beverage packaging increase, and the focus on chemicals and additives in general is also on the rise. We’re also still waiting to see what the new coalition government has in store for us in terms of regulatory changes that might impact our industry.
  • Plastics NZ will be focusing more squarely on the implementation and delivery of our revised strategy in 2024. Check back to pages 16 and 17 of our 2023 Annual Report for a summary. This will include continuing to provide a stronger, but more targeted, voice for the industry, promoting plastics and the industry, strengthening our community of amazing members, and lifting industry skills and capability to drive future success.

My team and I look forward to serving the needs of our industry in 2024 and engaging with you. Have a safe and relaxing holiday period, and we’ll see you on the other side!

Best regards,

Rachel Barker
CEO, Plastics NZ


Plastics New Zealand will be closed from Wednesday 20th December 2023 and will reopen on Monday 15th January 2024.