More plas­tic des­tined for tip

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Far North Dis­trict Coun­cil trans­fer sta­tions are about to cease ac­cept­ing some grades of plas­tic for re­cy­cling, thanks to a shrink­ing global mar­ket.

As of Jan­uary 14 only plas­tics num­bered 1 and 2 will be ac­cepted for re­cy­cling. (The num­ber iden­ti­fy­ing the type of plas­tic is typ­i­cally found on the bot­tom of the con­tainer). The move will bring the Far North into line with Whanga¯rei, which has never taken types 3-7, and Kaipara, which stopped about four years ago.

Un­til re­cently, the ma­jor­ity of the world’s waste plas­tic went to China for re­cy­cling. How­ever, that coun­try had dras­ti­cally lim­ited im­ports, and the mar­ket for plas­tics num­bered 3 to 7 had col­lapsed, the coun­cil’s act­ing gen­eral man­ager — in­fra­struc­ture and as­set man­age­ment Glenn Rain­ham said, adding that, like other New Zealand lo­cal author­i­ties, the coun­cil had few dis­posal op­tions for plas­tic waste.

“We could pay agents to take all types of plas­tic and hope they can find a re­cy­cler over­seas. How­ever, there is strong ev­i­dence that much of this plas­tic is not re­cy­cled and in­stead ends up pol­lut­ing the coun­tries it is shipped to,” he said.

“We could also stock­pile plas­tic in the hope a solution is found. How­ever, in­dus­try ex­perts agree there is lit­tle like­li­hood of the mar­ket for plas­tics num­bered 3 to 7 im­prov­ing any time soon.”

The coun­cil had no suit­able site for stock­pil­ing bales of mixed plas­tic, which de­te­ri­o­rated quickly when left in the open, mean­ing much of it would have to be dumped.

Mr Rain­ham said the best op­tion for the coun­cil was to con­tinue ac­cept­ing plas­tics num­bered 1 and 2 for re­cy­cling, and to di­vert all oth­ers to land­fill.

“No one is happy about send­ing plas­tic to land­fill. How­ever, un­til vi­able al­ter­na­tives are avail­able, we be­lieve this op­tion will have the least im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

The coun­cil was pro­vid­ing a tran­si­tion pe­riod, with plas­tics num­bered 3 to 7 con­tin­u­ing to be ac­cepted at no cost at refuse and re­cy­cling sta­tions un­til Jan­uary 14. Af­ter that, they should be in­cluded in nor­mal house­hold rub­bish go­ing to land­fill.

The de­ci­sion did not af­fect kerb­side re­cy­cling col­lec­tions, which were un­der­taken in the Far North by two pri­vate com­pa­nies. North­land Waste, which op­er­ated in the northern part of the dis­trict, had al­ready stopped col­lect­ing plas­tics num­bered 3 to 7, while Waste Man­age­ment, in the south, was con­sid­er­ing its po­si­tion.

In July the Far North Dis­trict Coun­cil sup­ported a Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand call on cen­tral gov­ern­ment to work with lo­cal author­i­ties to re­duce waste, op­tions in­clud­ing adopt­ing a na­tional ap­proach to col­lect­ing and pro­cess­ing re­cy­cling, and es­tab­lish­ing a con­tainer de­posit scheme to en­cour­age the re­use of plas­tics and bot­tles.

Plas­tics 1 and 2; those num­bered 3-7 will not be ac­cepted at Far North trans­fer sta­tions from Jan­uary 14.

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