The well-known motto re­duce, re­use, re­cy­cle is be­ing taken to the next level by lo­cal he­roes and abroad – big changes, led by the small.

Good - - CON­TENTS - Words Jane Matthews

He­roes and trends

Glass clink­ing. Cans rat­tling. Hard plas­tic wheels on con­crete. If you didn’t re­mem­ber what day it was, the loud re­minder trundling past your win­dow will jog your mem­ory.

It’s been a fort­night and the re­cy­cling bins are out; full to their brim too – one would think ev­ery­one’s a com­mit­ted re­cy­cler. And why wouldn’t you be? The process has be­come so sim­pli­fied it’s merely a quick clean then ‘which bin do I put this in?’ de­ci­sion. How­ever, no mat­ter the ef­forts to re­duce waste in our coun­try, we’re still dump­ing far too much for our own good.

New Zealand puts around 2.5 mil­lion tonnes of waste a year into land­fills. The is­sue with this is that de­com­pos­ing waste gen­er­ates green­house gases. The gases be­come haz­ardous as they pen­e­trate ground­wa­ter and soil, be­com­ing a potential harm for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. With such a high land­fill rate it’s hard to imag­ine a Zero-Waste NZ is on the cards – but it is – Auck­land and other re­gions are set on be­ing waste-free by 2040.

Zero Waste is a pos­si­bil­ity. As the years progress the amount of peo­ple who are re­cy­cling in­creases too – due to ei­ther a growth in knowl­edge, or ex­pand­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

Large Kiwi sus­tain­abil­ity projects have gained recog­ni­tion over­seas; some of which are fi­nal­ists in the C40 Cities Awards. The an­nual awards ac­knowl­edge en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trib­u­tors across 10 cat­e­gories from all around the globe – Auck­land gain­ing a front-run­ning po­si­tion in two of these; one be­ing Auck­land Coun­cil’s Waste to Re­source project. The Waste to Re­source project is a fi­nal­ist in the Solid Waste cat­e­gory af­ter mak­ing the big­gest change in waste ser­vices in the South­ern Hemi­sphere – bring­ing seven re­gional ser­vices into one waste man­age­ment sys­tem. This was merely the be­gin­ning of a large push to­ward Auck­land be­com­ing zero waste.

It’s not all about big change though. Smaller yet ef­fec­tive schemes all over the coun­try have been tack­ling prob­lems for years – re­cy­cling the unimag­in­able, the weird and the won­der­ful. Good spoke to some or­gan­i­sa­tions about their in­spi­ra­tions to tackle waste is­sues. Cof­fee cap­sules Cof­fee cap­sules and pods have be­come a re­cy­cling chal­lenge, es­pe­cially in more re­cent years with the devel­op­ment of do­mes­tic cof­fee ma­chines – how do you dis­pose of the cof­fee cap­sules?

Un­for­tu­nately it is not as sim­ple as putting them in your re­cy­cling. “Firstly, the pack­ag­ing is com­plex and of­ten a mix of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als. Cap­sules can be made out of plas­tic, alu­minium and/or biodegrad­able ma­te­ri­als. Se­condly, they of­ten con­tain left­over cof­fee re­mains, which con­tam­i­nates re­cy­cling. Any con­tam­i­nated re­cy­clables have to be re­moved when the re­cy­cling is sorted,” says Auck­land Coun­cil waste plan­ning man­ager Parul Sood. “They are also very dif­fi­cult to process due to their size. This means they are not cap­tured through the re­cy­cling sort­ing ma­chin­ery to be baled with other bot­tles or cans for trans­port – which is the same for loose bot­tle caps. (If you are putting plas­tic or glass bot­tles into your re­cy­cling bin, keep the caps and lids on so they can be ap­pro­pri­ately sorted at the re­cy­cling cen­tre.) Some cof­fee pod/ cap­sule com­pa­nies now of­fer their own re­turn schemes for re­cy­cling.”

Ne­spresso New Zealand has had a cap­sule re­cy­cling pro­gramme in place since open­ing its first bou­tique in Auck­land in 2011. Their cap­sules are made of alu­minium which makes them in­fin­itely re­cy­clable, though the onus is on the con­sumer to re­cy­cle them. Since 2011 Ne­spresso has been con­tin­u­ally work­ing on plans to make it as easy for the end user to re­cy­cle as pos­si­ble and in Oc­to­ber 2016 an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with New Zealand Post to ex­tend the reach of its ex­ist­ing re­cy­cling pro­gramme.

By us­ing a spe­cially de­signed re­cy­cling bag, con­sumers can now drop their used alu­minium cap­sules into any New Zealand PostShop in more than 270 lo­ca­tions across the coun­try. Each re­cy­cling bag holds up to 130 cap­sules, and the re­turn postage is paid by Ne­spresso.

The cap­sules are then sent to EcoS­tock, in Auck­land. EcoS­tock are spe­cial­ists in re­verse en­gi­neer­ing of pack­aged food ma­te­ri­als, sep­a­rat­ing var­i­ous forms of pack­ag­ing from food, in­clud­ing Ne­spresso cof­fee grounds. The cof­fee grounds are then blended with other or­ganic ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate a com­postable blend, and the alu­minium is bailed into high den­sity blocks, which are sent to the alu­minium in­dus­try to man­u­fac­ture into new prod­ucts.

“We have been look­ing for ways to make it eas­ier for peo­ple to re­cy­cle the cap­sules as their par­tic­i­pa­tion is es­sen­tial to make our re­cy­cling ef­forts a suc­cess,” says Ne­spresso New Zealand’s new coun­try man­ager John Ciaglia. “The bag has been specif­i­cally de­signed to be car­ried in New Zealand Post’s na­tional net­work and is a sig­nif­i­cant step for us to pro­vide more ac­ces­si­bil­ity to re­cy­cling for our cus­tomers.”

Ne­spresso is also con­tin­u­ing its part­ner­ship with re­cy­cling and up­cy­cling pi­o­neer Ter­raCy­cle. In Au­gust Ter­raCy­cle and Ne­spresso up­scaled its re­cy­cling pro­gramme by in­tro­duc­ing new drop-off sta­tions for peo­ple to present their used Ne­spresso cap­sules to be re­cy­cled. The ar­eas are scat­tered na­tion­wide from Kerik­eri to In­ver­cargill at more than 100 florists and gar­den cen­tres.

Orewa Lions Club vol­un­teer Laurie Rands is also do­ing her bit. She col­lects the cap­sules and spends hours sep­a­rat­ing the cof­fee and alu­minium by hand. Rands’ re­cy­cled cof­fee pods aren’t merely re­cy­cled so they stay out of bins; they’re rais­ing money for Kid­ney Kids Foun­da­tion, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that sup­ports chil­dren with kid­ney is­sues.

Rands is based in the Hi­bis­cus Coast, Auck­land, and runs her re­gion’s seg­ment of the Kid­ney Kids fundraiser called ‘Kan Tabs’. ‘Kan Tabs’ in­volves the col­lec­tion of alu­minium items such as Ne­spresso cap­sules. She col­lects the items then on­sells them to her lo­cal scrap dealer, giv­ing all of the funds re­ceived to Kid­ney Kids.

Awe­some out­comes

Like Rands, more and more or­gan­i­sa­tions are look­ing di­rectly at what they can do with re­cy­cled goods. New Zealand-owned com­pany My Mojo cre­ates sta­tionery from eco-friendly ma­te­ri­als. The sta­tionery

is not man­u­fac­tured in New Zealand as plas­tics are not pro­cessed here – but My Mojo di­rec­tor Tony El­lis says this means the com­pany can of­fer the sta­tionery at a good price.

My Mojo sells var­i­ous pieces of sta­tionery rang­ing from note pads to high­lighters and pens – all of which have as­pects of re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als. El­lis’s chil­dren in­spired the idea of eco-sta­tionery: “What my kids are do­ing at school, and their com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity, and the fact that they get through so much sta­tionery through­out their years at school, and it seemed to kind of all fit to­gether,” El­lis says.

Ter­raCy­cle also en­cour­age us­ing ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate new things. They have given the pub­lic direc­tion on mak­ing zip lock bags into wal­lets, and have ini­ti­ated a re­ward scheme that en­cour­ages re­cy­cling oral care waste. Those who col­lect the used items for Ter­raCy­cle can win money or a park bench made from the re­cy­cled oral care waste.

Plas­tic bags

En­sur­ing plas­tic bags and food wrap­pers are re­cy­cled has been made even eas­ier thanks to a new soft pack­ag­ing ini­tia­tive by the Pack­ag­ing Fo­rum Inc in­clud­ing foun­da­tion part­ner Cot­ton­soft Ltd with Ki­wiSoft, Cot­tonSofts, Paseo and Tuffy brands.

Most coun­cils don’t want you to put plas­tic bags in your re­cy­cling bin be­cause they get caught in the sort­ing ma­chines.

Since the launch of the Soft Plas­tic Re­cy­cling Pro­gramme launched in late 2015, more than 10 mil­lion plas­tic bags have been re­pur­posed.

“Peo­ple may be sur­prised to learn 4.3 mil­lion soft plas­tic bags and wrap­pers are be­ing thrown away ev­ery day in New Zealand,” says Mal­colm Everts, cat­e­gory mar­ket­ing man­ager at Cot­tonSofts. “With over 45 tonnes of plas­tic bags and wrap­pers al­ready dropped off at var­i­ous re­tail­ers since this ini­tia­tive launched, we’re proud to be sup­port­ing ac­tiv­ity that has re­sulted in this rub­bish not go­ing to a land­fill or worse.”

How does it work? Look out for Re­cy­cle Soft Pack­ag­ing bins at your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. The bins can be found at more than 200 Count­down, New World, Pak’nSave and The Ware­house stores in Auck­land, Hamil­ton, Welling­ton and Can­ter­bury. In the next three years the pro­gramme will ex­pand to Otago, the Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and other re­gions.

The soft plas­tic that can be re­cy­cled in­cludes toi­let tis­sue and kitchen towel pack­ag­ing, shop­ping bags, bub­ble wrap, bread, pasta and rice bags, fresh pro­duce bags in­clud­ing net­ting citrus bags, frozen food bags, dairy and ice-cream wrap­pers, ce­real box lin­ers, squeeze pouches, courier packs, news­pa­per wraps and con­fec­tionary wraps and lolly bags. The col­lected plas­tics are sent to Re­plas Aus­tralia for pro­cess­ing.

The soft plas­tics that are re­cy­cled can be turned into things like park benches and fit­ness cir­cuits for play­grounds as well as ev­ery­day items like bol­lards, deck­ing and even re­cy­cling bins too. The Clive Bridge cy­cle­way in Hawke’s Bay, de­signed by Metal Art, was made from 4.2 mil­lion re­cy­cled plas­tic bags. Metal Art has teamed up with Re­plas Aus­tralia to bring its range of re­cy­cled plas­tic prod­ucts to New Zealand.

More cool stuff

New World and Pak’nSave have cre­ated New Zealand’s world-first re­cy­clable butch­ery trays. The ini­tia­tive saw Food­stuffs win a 2016 Green Rib­bon Award for waste min­imi­sa­tion. Made of 50 per cent re­cy­cled plas­tic, the trays can be put in road­side re­cy­cling bins and have re­placed non-re­cy­clable poly­styrene foam, 100 mil­lion of which ends up in land­fills ev­ery year. Food­stuffs’ goal is to move its pack­ag­ing to­wards be­ing 100 per cent re­cy­clable ei­ther road­side or back at store. Sin­gle-use pack­ag­ing doesn’t make fi­nan­cial or en­vi­ron­men­tal sense, says Food­stuffs (NZ) Ltd man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Steve An­der­son. “Go­ing to the trou­ble of man­u­fac­tur­ing a prod­uct from a fi­nite re­source, then us­ing it once for a few days be­fore rel­e­gat­ing it to a land­fill is sim­ply in­ef­fi­cient and ir­re­spon­si­ble.”

For Auck­land City to achieve the goal of zero waste by 2040 ev­ery­body in the city needs to be par­tic­i­pat­ing, says Sood. “It’s an as­pi­ra­tional goal which means we work to­wards an econ­omy that is not le­nient but cir­cu­lar, where you try to get those prod­ucts that you are pro­duc­ing back into that cy­cle of life and that’s the aim,” she says. “The big­ger vi­sion is that the whole city thinks in a way that ev­ery­thing you pro­duce is ac­tu­ally in that cir­cu­lar waste state rather than a le­nient state where you make some­thing, use it and then throw it away.”

Re­cy­cling is also not the an­swer to ev­ery­thing, says Sood. “It is one op­tion but it is also down the line, so it is think­ing about ‘what can I re­duce in terms of my foot­print of my im­pact in that space? And can I re­use it lo­cally?’ What else can you do with it? And then if you can’t do any of that, then it’s good to re­cy­cle it and not put it in the rub­bish.”

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