Kerbside bin not for soft plastics
The silver lining to Nelsonians’ recycling efforts is turning into a lead one as households continue to put soft plastics wrongly into roadside bins.
Tasman District Council waste management asset engineer David Stephenson said its contractor Smart Environmental had seen a ‘‘big increase’’ in how much soft plastic was being put in kerbside bins.
It seemed ‘‘lots of people are really keen’’ to recycle soft plastics, he said.
‘‘And that’s great, unfortunately though, if you put them in your kerbside bin Smart Environmental will not be able to take your recycling.’’
The most common contaminants were shopping bags and plastic food packaging.
Soft plastics are too light for the gravity-based sorting system at the recycling centre, jamming the machinery.
Contractors were carrying out ‘‘proactive inspections’’ of kerbside recycling bins to check for soft plastics.
‘‘Where we find plastic bags in the bins we’ll sticker the bin and ask the customer to remove the bags and put their recycling out again in a fortnight.’’
Despite the increase in incorrect recyclables they were ‘‘very pleased’’ that the industry had ‘‘stepped up’’ to implement the soft plastic recycling scheme.
‘‘There has been strong demand from our community.
‘‘We’re hoping that even more supermarkets will be able to provide the service over time,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re also pleased that both Countdown and New World will be phasing out single use carrier bags next year.’’
New World Nelson owner-operator Greg Guy said the soft plastic recycling programme had been ‘‘very popular’’.
‘‘Locals are doing a great job, they’re putting all of the right kind of soft plastics in there.’’
His staff were emptying the standard size 240 litre bin four times a day.
Countdown general manager corporate affairs James Walker said the response from Nelson Countdown customers to the soft plastics recycling scheme had been ‘‘fantastic’’.
‘‘We’re finding that the mix of soft plastics being recycled is really varied and customers have quickly got into the habit of bringing their recycling along.’’
Walker said if customers found the bin to be full, they should let someone at the service desk know, who would then come and empty the bin.
Nelson City Council group manager infrastructure Alec Louverdis said the council’s contractors reported rejecting about 50 bins a day because they had incorrect recyclables or contamination in them.
‘‘Just over half of this number is due to the presence of soft plastics, mainly plastic bags.’’
New World, Pak’nSave and Countdown took on soft plastic recycling bins in September, when the The Packaging Forum announced it was rolling out the Love NZ soft 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, plastic wrappers and newspaper and magazine wrap which previously ended up in landfill.
The plastics are taken to Melbourne where the soft plastics are made into furniture and other durable plastic items.
For more information on what to recycle in the bins, go to recycling.kiwi.nz/solutions/softplastics/faqs
Labu Pan’s bicycle kick goal has won Nelson Mail photographer Martin de Ruyter the best single image award at this year’s NZ Football Media Association Awards.