Twelve companies have today committed to using 100 per cent recyclable packaging by 2025.
The announcement was made on World Environment Day in Auckland by Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.
New Zealand-based Foodstuffs, Countdown, New Zealand Post and Frucor Suntory, and multinationals Amcor, Danone, L'Oreal, Mars, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestle signed the NZ Plastic Packaging Declaration.
Countdown, Fresh Choice and SuperValue announced they would phase out plastic straws by October 1 this year and move towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by at least 2025.
Countdown's general manager of corporate affairs Kiri Hannifin said that by phasing out plastic straws the company would be removing 11.6 million of them from landfills every year.
"Plastic straws are almost impossible to recycle because they of their size and lightness. They also hold no value post use so are not attractive to those companies who are purchasing and reusing used plastic," she said.
"Seeing images of turtles with straws coming out of their nostrils is confronting and although straws account for a small part of marine pollution, they cause significant harm and are mostly unnecessary for beverage consumption."
Foodstuffs was also trialling asking customers to bring their own containers to Howick New World to be filled with meat from the butchery or seafood.
"These companies have drawn a line in the sand, pledging to do their bit to stem the tide of plastic waste and plastic pollution," Sage said.
She said signing the declaration was a significant and important step towards reducing the amount of plastic produced and it helped end plastic pollution.
"I hope more businesses, regardless of size, join the declaration and start working to reduce their waste," Sage said.
L'Oreal Australia and New Zealand managing director Rodrigo Pizzaro said packaging is an important part of its sustainability goals. "We know we have a part to play in helping to solve some of the great challenges of our planet and are pleased to reaffirm our commitment in New Zealand through signing this declaration. We hope other companies operating in New Zealand will join the declaration and make similar commitments."
He said L'Oreal last year replaced virgin materials with 7294 tonnes of recycled materials, an increase of 10 per cent on 2016. In 2017, the group's Redken, Kiehl's and Pureology brands for example, launched 250ml shampoo bottles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic.
Scientists estimate that more than 150 million tonnes of plastics are in the ocean and if nothing changes plastic in oceans will weigh more than fish by 2050.
"We need to move to a circular economy by designing waste out of our economic system and creating and buying products designed to have a long life, which can be easily disassembled so they can reused, recycled or composted," said Sage.
Sage also announced charity Sustainable Coastlines would get $2.7 million to develop an education programme and a national litter database.
"Sustainable Coastlines is already playing a critical role in mobilising New Zealanders to look after our beaches and rivers.
"Now they can do important work to test the effectiveness of litter interventions, including educational approaches, so we can work out how to best change litter behaviour."
The programme will train "citizen scientists" across the country to input their own data using a standard methodology.
Educators nationwide will be given resources and evaluation tools to educate against littering.
Environment Minister David Parker said a lot of work had yet to be done and it is only going to be achieved by co-operation between corporates, Government and consumers.
New Zealand Post chief marketing officer Bryan Dobson said the company was considering its packaging options and working towards developing a goal of sustainable solutions that do not harm the environment.
"If there is one thing we have learned, is it's not straightforward and we recognise the need to collaborate to find the right solution," Dobson said.