Mis­lead­ing re­cy­cling claims force new plans

The Press - - News - Emma Danger­field

Com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing a ‘‘tsunami’’ of plas­tic waste by falsely telling con­sumers their pack­ag­ing can be re­cy­cled when it can­not, an eco-ed­u­ca­tor says.

Eco Ed­u­cate founder Les­ley Ottey said she was hor­ri­fied to dis­cover her lo­cal Spark store was giv­ing out bags it claimed were re­cy­clable.

She said staff at the Ran­giora store told her the bags could be put into the lo­cal coun­cil kerb­side re­cy­cling bins, and Spark’s Face­book team told her the same.

How­ever, Waimakariri Dis­trict Coun­cil solid waste man­ager Kitty Waghorn said the plas­tic could not be re­cy­cled any­where in the dis­trict.

‘‘They can’t be put in coun­cil kerb­side re­cy­cling bins, nor in the kerb­side con­tain­ers in Christchurch, Sel­wyn, Ash­bur­ton and Hu­runui. They also can’t be put into plas­tics re­cy­cling bins at Ran­giora’s South­brook re­source re­cov­ery park or the Ox­ford trans­fer sta­tion.’’

The plas­tic was too thick to go into the soft plas­tics bins at lo­cal su­per­mar­kets and branches of The Ware­house. The best so­lu­tion was al­ways to say ‘‘no’’ to bags, she said.

Ottey said the same prob­lem could be found at New World su­per­mar­kets, where deli pot­tles marked ‘‘re­cy­clable at kerb­side’’ ended up clog­ging the re­cy­cling stream. The pot­tles are waxed, mean­ing they are a mixed-ma­te­rial prod­uct, so can­not be re­cy­cled or put in com­post bins.

‘‘Big com­pa­nies need to re­alise what they are do­ing by pro­duc­ing this stuff in the first place. They are just not do­ing their home­work. They are forc­ing a tsunami of crap on us. Their claims of re­cy­clable plas­tics are just green-wash­ing and it is con­fus­ing ev­ery­one.’’

She urged busi­nesses to take their prod­uct stew­ard­ship se­ri­ously and ask for ad­vice be­fore putting out new items.

Spark con­firmed Ottey’s con­cerns had prompted im­me­di­ate ac­tion. A spokes­woman said store staff would now be in­structed to tell cus­tomers to check their lo­cal coun­cil web­site for re­cy­cling rules. The bags would also be re­la­belled to re­move con­fu­sion.

‘‘This has been a good trig­ger for us and we will now be look­ing at what other op­tions are avail­able to us.’’

Change is also im­mi­nent at Ber­ica, the com­pany that sup­plies the deli pot­tles to New World. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Beat­son said the com­pany had be­come in­creas­ingly con­cerned that its pa­per food bowls were not gen­er­ally re­cy­cled through­out New Zealand, so had taken steps to cor­rect it.

He said one of the key frus­tra­tions for sup­pli­ers was that many items able to be re­cy­cled in other coun­tries could not be pro­cessed in New Zealand be­cause of a lack of fa­cil­i­ties.

‘‘We have been work­ing with a rep­utable re­cy­cling com­pany and have pro­vided them sam­ples of our prod­uct to be tested in their lab­o­ra­tory.

‘‘Their re­port, re­ceived just last week, con­firmed that they are un­able to put the pa­per bowls through their re­cy­cling plant.’’ Beat­son said all new stock, due into the com­pany’s ware­house later this month, would be free from any ref­er­ence to re­cy­cling.

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