Soft plas­tic re­cy­cling has landed

Nelson Mail - - FRONT PAGE - SARA MEIJ

A soft plas­tic re­cy­cling scheme has ar­rived in Nel­son, with New World, Pak’nSave and Count­down tak­ing on soft plas­tic re­cy­cling bins.

The Pack­ag­ing Fo­rum an­nounced yes­ter­day it was rolling out the Love NZ soft plas­tic re­cy­cling pro­gramme across the South Is­land.

The pro­gramme is a con­sumer re­cy­cling ini­tia­tive that al­lows peo­ple to re­cy­cle a range of soft plas­tic pack­ag­ing, such as plas­tic bags, which pre­vi­ously ended up in land­fill.

Soft Plas­tics Re­cy­cling Pro­gramme project man­ager Lyn Mayes said the su­per­mar­kets would be us­ing their own dis­tri­bu­tion net­work to trans­port the soft plas­tic they col­lected back to Christchurch where it would be re­cy­cled.

This dif­fered to else­where in the coun­try where ded­i­cated col­lec­tion net­works were set up.

‘‘The abil­ity of the re­tail­ers to trans­port the col­lected ma­te­ri­als means we have been able to ex­pand to re­gions such as Marl­bor­ough and Nel­son, which would oth­er­wise be too ex­pen­sive to ser­vice.’’

Mayes said by rolling out the soft re­cy­cling scheme over the South Is­land they had reached the goal of bring­ing soft plas­tic re­cy­cling to over 70 per cent of New Zealan­ders in two years, in­stead of the planned three years.

Any soft plas­tic can be put in the bins for re­cy­cling, in­clud­ing plas­tic mag­a­zine or news­pa­per cov­ers, such as the one that’s around the Nel­son Mail to pro­tect it from the el­e­ments.

Mayes said the most pop­u­lar branded pack­ag­ing that had been col­lected through the scheme were bread bags (21 per cent), paper goods pack­ag­ing (18 per cent) and frozen food bags (14 per cent).

She said 55 per cent of bags that were col­lected were un­branded, in­clud­ing sin­gle use car­rier bags, fresh pro­duce and bak­ery bags, and news­pa­per and mag­a­zine wrap­pers. Fair­fax Me­dia Nel­son re­gion editor Vic­to­ria Guild said the scheme was ‘‘fan­tas­tic news’’.

A bin for Nel­son Mail cus­tomers for news­pa­per wrap­pers will be set up in the Nel­son Mail of­fice.

‘‘Our new de­liv­ery model has meant we had to wrap our news­pa­per in plas­tic to pro­tect it from the el­e­ments, so the fact those bags can now be re­cy­cled in the top of the south is a huge re­lief.’’

Count­down gen­eral man­ager cor­po­rate af­fairs James Walker said the roll out in Nel­son and the South Is­land was ‘‘a big step for­ward’’.

‘‘Bring­ing on board all of our stores in the South Is­land means more of our cus­tomers will now have the abil­ity to re­duce the amount of waste go­ing to land­fill.’’

Food­stuffs sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager Mike Sam­mons said cus­tomers at New World and Pak’nSave na­tion­wide had col­lected around 192 tonnes of soft plas­tic pack­ag­ing over the past 20 months through the pro­gramme.

The plas­tics are taken to Mel­bourne where the soft plas­tics were made into fur­ni­ture and other durable plas­tic items.

‘‘We need to cre­ate de­mand for these prod­ucts and cre­ate New Zealand re­cy­cling so­lu­tions for soft plas­tics to sus­tain growth. The scheme has brought to­gether re­tail­ers, brands and pack­ag­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to fund and pro­mote the ser­vice.’’

New World su­per­mar­kets are also cur­rently ask­ing cus­tomers to vote via www.bagvote.co.nz on whether to keep plas­tic bags free or bring in a five or 10 cent charge for each plas­tic bag they use.

Sam­mons said if cus­tomers voted to pay for bags, New World would do­nate the pro­ceeds from the bag charge to a va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­men­tal causes in­clud­ing SeaClean­ers, who work to re­move rub­bish from wa­ter­ways around New Zealand.

The Love NZ soft plas­tic re­cy­cling pro­gramme re­cently re­ceived a $700,000 grant from the Gov­ern­ment’s Waste Min­imi­sa­tion Fund.

Nel­son En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre waste min­imi­sa­tion man­ager Karen Driver said more en­ergy should be put into re­duc­ing waste, in­stead of re­cy­cling.

‘‘Waste min­imi­sa­tion is the key. [Re­cy­cling] is ob­vi­ously bet­ter than land­fill­ing [plas­tic], but par­tic­u­larly the plas­tic bags tend to be sin­gle use which is just ridicu­lous, all the en­ergy and ma­te­ri­als that go into mak­ing them.’’

Driver said she was keen on a plas­tic bag levy, but ide­ally wanted to see them banned al­to­gether.

BRADEN FASTIER/NEL­SON MAIL.

Nel­son Mail chief news di­rec­tor Sally Kid­son, cen­tre, on a seat made from re­cy­cled plas­tic with Vic­tory School pupils Tahla Jaen, left, 8; Mahina Tay­lor, 8; Sarah Innes-Walker, 10 and Suilen­par Thang, 10 and of­fi­cials at the soft plas­tic re­cy­cling launch.

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