NZ hardens up on soft plastics recycling

Friday, 06 September, 2019

NZ hardens up on soft plastics recycling

From 9 September 2019, New Zealand shoppers in and around Hamilton can take their soft plastic packaging to one of nine Countdown and The Warehouse stores. The Hamilton rollout of soft plastics collection follows the successful restart of collections across the Auckland region.

Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme Chair Malcolm Everts said the scheme is very pleased to be extending the service, knowing that local processors and scheme partners are in place to reduce soft plastic waste.

“Since May, when we restarted Auckland collections, we have helped Future Post turn around 3.5 million plastic bags and wrappers into plastic fence posts. We’re now ready to extend the service out to Hamilton, as well as adding four extra Auckland Countdown and The Warehouse stores.

“This will increase the number of drop-off points for consumers to 51 stores and provide a soft plastic recycling service which is accessible to around 40% of the population.

“It is critical to the scheme’s success that we collect quality soft plastic packaging and that we manage the volumes we collect so that it meets the available processing capacity,” Everts said.

From October, the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme will also extend to Countdown and The Warehouse stores in the Wellington and Hutt Valley region, with soft plastics collected in the Wellington region destined to be recycled by Second Life Plastics into cable covers, garden edging and other products.

“One year ago, there was no onshore processing of post-consumer soft plastics,” Everts said. “Today there are two North Island plants: Future Post in Waiuku and Second Life Plastics in Levin, which are great examples of Kiwi ingenuity. We are working with them and our members to increase demand for their products. To have a sustainable circular economy where waste materials are reprocessed into new valuable products and commodities, we need industry, councils and government departments to start buying products which are made from our recycling efforts.”

Everts explained that the main limiting factor to the plastics recycling scheme is a lack of near-shore/onshore processing facilities.

“It is not a lack of industry support or a lack of consumer willingness to drop off their soft plastic packaging,” he said. “It is the fact there are currently only two processors in North Island that are able to process post-consumer soft plastics.”

Scheme members’ levies fund collections from stores, quality checks, baling and transport to end markets, and contribute to the processing costs as well. This is different from the traditional model where the processor pays the collector/recycler for the materials.

Customers can check which stores are offering the service on the website store locator.

Image credit: © M

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