New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says Labour's promise to create a $50 million fund to research alternatives for single-use plastics is "reckless in the extreme".
The Plastics Innovation Fund was announced by Labour alongside a pledge to ban single-use plastics like straws, coffees stirrers and fruit stickers within five years if re-elected.
"That sort of heroic talk is all good - no one is ever going to oppose that," said Peters about the policy on a campaign stop at Albany mall on Auckland's North Shore.
"Except applying $50 million to do research on it is extraordinary - it's reckless in the extreme. We haven't got that sort of money."
Labour said the money would come from the already in-place waste levy which is expected to generate $276 million per year by 2024.
Leader Jacinda Ardern said many single-use plastic products already had an alternative, like straws and coffee-stirrers so bans on those items would be brought in sooner than the 2025 deadline.
But they would "need to do some work" on other examples, like importers who would have to ensure their suppliers had plastic-free packaging alternatives.
Ardern said she felt there was an understanding why there needed to be a move on single-use plastics – an issue she's previously called a "personal priority".
Ardern said the policy was about upholding New Zealand's "clean green image", reducing waste in the environment and creating a future the younger generation could be proud of.
Twins Grete and Skye Nicolson spent their 13th birthday at Sustainable Coastlines in Auckland - where Ardern unveiled the policy - sorting plastic found on the city's beaches.
They liked the idea of the policy but the thing they hated picking up the most were cigarette buts because they were so "stinky".
Ardern said many businesses were already moving to plastic-free alternatives and Ardern said they needed to "even-up the playing field" and "make sure everyone moves".
Businesses would be given a lead-in time - like they had with the plastic bags ban which came in under the Labour-led Government in 2019.
The $50m Plastics Innovation Fund would provide grants and loans to researchers or companies to rethink plastic products.
Labour's environment spokesman David Parker said they would also "take steps" to see more recycling done locally and continue to work on a deposit return scheme for drink vessels.
And they would roll out the regulations next year for product stewardship schemes where a producer or seller of a product takes responsibility for reducing the waste of their products.
It would also look to standardise kerbside recycling by collecting plastics 1, 2, and 5, metal, glass, cardboard and paper across New Zealand, incentivising the collection of food waste and collecting glass separately to other recycling.
National leader Judith Collins said supermarkets were phasing out plastics in cotton buds already and "poor old Labour [was] playing catch-up".
"This just another basically nice to have. People are trying to do their best but the main thing is the fact that people lose their jobs every day and I think they are going to more concerned about that, frankly."
Act leader David Seymour said Labour's policy was "nothing more than virtue signalling that will inconvenience New Zealanders".
Instead, better waste management was needed, he said.