Seminar – Microplastics and other emerging contaminants of concern: Bigger picture and solutions

Seminar – Microplastics and other emerging contaminants of concern:  Bigger picture and solutions

This seminar is a follow-up to the seminar on 16 June 2020. It is advised that you attend both seminars to maximise learning on these complex topics.

Presented by: 

  • Dr Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor
  • Dr Trisia Farrelly, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Co-Director of Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre
  • Jacqui Forbes, General Manager, Para Kore Marae Incorporated
  • Dr Florian Graichen, Science Leader – Biopolymers and Chemicals, Scion
  • Huia Iti, Research and Development Manager, ecostore

This two-hour seminar will cover:

  1. Rethinking plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand: The global spotlight is on plastics and there is a groundswell of activity to build on. We are at a pivotal point where we can rethink how we use plastics to reduce the negative impacts while retaining its many benefits. Now is the time to seize this opportunity.  The ‘Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand’ report identified a series of initial knowledge gaps that were felt to be fundamental to a collective effort to fix Aotearoa New Zealand’s plastic issue and do our part to address the global problem. The report brings together an evidence‐base and expert opinion, along with specific solutions or recommendation, to guide this change. The main aims, and findings from the report will be presented, including the vision of the future of plastics in Aotearoa and the strategies that will allow this to be achieved.
  2. An update on the global plastic pollution crisis and how NZ should respond: Some New Zealanders think that the relatively small size of our country and remote location means that we contribute little to the global plastic pollution crisis.  However, those same New Zealanders may be surprised to learn that New Zealand is one of the highest per capita producers of household waste in the developed world.  We are also guilty of waste dumping in developing countries.  Earlier this year, Indonesia sent five shipping containers of our low value plastic waste back to us because it was contaminated.  We have a responsibility to address the plastics crisis at multiple levels of governance.  A series of recommendations are offered including prioritising policy and investment at the top of the waste hierarchy; linking plastic waste to human health and our commitments to carbon reduction targets; implementing our international commitments domestically; and supporting an international legally binding plastic pollution treaty that captures the full lifecycle of plastics and its transboundary flows.
  3. Para Kore, an indigenous model using a Māori worldview for waste education: Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated the interconnectedness of our species as human beings. The Para Kore waste education programme is based on principles of interconnectedness, our whakapapa to Rangi and Papa, and our whanaungatanga to all parts of the natural world. Para Kore is a push back on the linear economy, with its ever-increasing volumes of plastic waste, for a world without waste. The Para Kore education programme teaches Māori values of manaakitanga (caring), whakapapa (connectedness), māramatanga (awareness and understanding), kaitiakitanga (normalising closed loop systems) and rangatiratanga (self-determination) to support relationships with living systems (our relatives), transmit knowledge through generations and embed long-term thinking. We are after all, working for our mokopuna (grandchildren and future generations).
  4. Biodegradable plastics – a corner stone of the New Plastics Economy: Current situation, challenges, opportunities and new initiatives:  Biodegradable Plastics are an example for the challenges and opportunities that arise through the convergence of circular economy and bioeconomy to a circular bioeconomy. Considering the ongoing sustainability discussions around plastics, it is easy to forget that the use of plastics in several sectors has resulted in improved health, energy savings, increased crop production, improved food quality, reduction of food waste as well as the improvement of the overall ecological footprint. This is critical for a world that is facing challenges like feeding 10 billion people by 2050, a plastic waste flood & reduced availability of finite resources.  It is important to look at biodegradable plastics from several perspectives:
  • Where and how are they used
  • What is the (sustainable) source of feedstock that they are made from
  • What about the additives that are added to them
  • How do they fit into the other sustainable end of life options – reuse, recycle and composting

It is not about which end of life option is superior – it is about appropriate solutions for any given product in their specific environment.  We consider biobased and/or biodegradable plastic alternatives as part of a possible answer to the sustainability challenges we face. With circular principals in mind designed biodegradable plastics offer the combination of sustainable material & sustainable end of life option while offering all the benefits of plastics use. This presentation will look take a holistic look at biodegradable plastics – considering the current (global) situation, the challenges, opportunities and new initiatives. These initiatives have the potential to position these plastics as a vital piece in transitioning several sectors and our whole economy into a circular bioeconomy.

  1. Ecostore- making safer plant and mineral-based products you can trust: A short timeline of events which capture the key milestones in ecostore’s journey of >25 years… from Mamaki to New York, Beijing etc! A dream that became a global brand with products that have people and the planet at the core.

Q and A will take place once all of the speakers have presented.

About the presenters:

Dr Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke: Rachel is a senior research and policy analyst for the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Rachel led the ‘Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand’ project for the office, working with an expert panel and a broad reference group. The report, published in December 2019, collated the broad evidence base around plastic use and waste in Aotearoa New Zealand and provided recommendations to government on ways to mitigate the issues related to plastics.

Dr Trisia Farrelly:  Tricia is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Co-Director of Massey University’s Political Ecology Research Centre.  Trisia examines plastic pollution from a range of social science perspectives. She is Co-Founder of the New Zealand Product Stewardship Council and the Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance; she has been a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Expert Group (Marine Litter and Microplastics) since 2017; and she was nominated to its associated Scientific Advisory Committee last year.  Trisia is also a member of New Zealand’s National Container Deposit Scheme Working Group. Her co-edited book with Dr Sy Taffel and Professor Ian Shaw, Plastic Legacies: Pollution, Persistence, and Politics, is in press.

Jacqui Forbes (Ngāruahine):  Jacqui has been a leader within the community resource recovery sector for more than 15 years. Jacqui is general manager of Para Kore which educates and advocates from a Māori worldview for a world without waste. Jacqui has experience working in community recycling, waste consultancy and auditing, zero waste events and community waste education. Jacqui’s previous roles have included Xtreme Zero Waste, Enviroschools facilitation, primary teaching in kura kaupapa and early childhood teaching in kōhanga reo.

Dr Florian Graichen:  Florian is Science Leader for some of Scion’s Circular Bioeconomy related science and innovation areas – specifically Biobased Polymers and Chemicals. These activities are directed at solving new product and process challenges that arise through transition into a new economy focused on sustainable design and renewable resources. Customization and circular design thinking are at the heart of all innovations. Examples include the development of advanced biobased performance products, holistic packaging solutions, valorisation of primary sector waste and side streams and agile, modular and mobile processing (additive manufacturing).

Huia Iti:  Huia joined ecostore as research and development manager in 2007. Prior to joining ecostore, Huia was the research and development manager at Fletcher Building in their specialist Coil Coating operation and quality and research development chemist in dental and paint industries. Huia holds a BSc Chemistry from Auckland University.  For the past 13 years, Huia has been at the tiller of ecostore’s product development program. Taking the vision from ecostore’s founders Malcolm and Melanie Rands and realising it through elegant plant and mineral based products. Huia’s career in small and large entities at different stages of their sustainability journeys has brought valuable experience to ecostore. He deeply considers and balances both human and environmental factors, whilst delivering financial value. Huia understands the challenges facing businesses endeavouring to adopt sustainable practices. Huia’s focus on renewable technology helped materialise a global first in converting ecostore packaging from petrochemical plastic to plastic made from sugarcane. His holistic approach ensures adherence to the purpose and principles which underpins the number one most recognised sustainable brand for five years in a row (Colmar Brunton Better Futures Report, 2014-2018).


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ten − 1 =