Soft plastic recycling has landed
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.
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.