Greenpeace is calling for a ban on plastic drink bottles, in response to dangerous levels of microplastics being found around Bay of Plenty moana.
Waikato University Master of Science student Anita Lewis found the particles in every sediment sample she took across the region.
Greenpeace Aotearoa said particularly high levels were found inside shellfish, including tuatua, cockles and wedge shells.
The environmental group said the government's plan to phase out what it calls "difficult to recycle single-use plastic items" does not go far enough.
Greenpeace plastics campaigner Juressa Lee said single-use plastic drink bottles from the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which are recyclable, should also be banned.
"Plastic bottles are one of the most commonly found items on our beaches.
"Plastic on our beaches ends up in our oceans, it breaks down into microplastics."
The three-stage plan to phase out hard-to-recycle plastic packaging will take place over the next four years, but groups were critical of how far it went when it was announced last month.
From late 2022 PVC meat trays, polystyrene takeaway packaging and degradable plastic products that harm the environment will not be allowed.
By mid-2025 all other PVC and polystyrene food and drink packaging will be outlawed.
The ban also includes single-use plastic items such as drink stirrers, cotton buds, single-use produce bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.
Lee said the government should look at expanding its plans to include plastic bottles.
"There was no reference to any of that in the most recent announcement, and we think that banning the plastic bottle would be a huge reduction in the amount of pollution."