Soft plastic recycling returns to Auckland
Aucklanders can once again recycle their plastic shopping bags and plastic wrappers with the industry-led Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme back in action.
Soft plastics recycling is not an Auckland Council, ratepayer-funded service. Run by the Packaging Forum, the scheme is collecting soft plastic materials from 37 selected Countdown, The Warehouse, and Huckleberry stores across the region.
The Packaging Forum halted the scheme in December 2018, while they looked for Kiwi businesses able to process and recycle soft plastics into new products.
“Soft plastics are widely used in packaging. They are any plastics that can be scrunched into a ball or broken by hand, and include packaging waste such as shrink wrap, bubble wrap, or large plastic bags,” says Auckland Council’s Parul Sood, Programme Director Waste Solution.
Single-use plastic, including soft plastics, made up 77 per cent of the rubbish picked up by Sustainable Coastlines around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, according to the 2018 Auckland Council Waste Management and Minimisation Plan
“We encourage Aucklanders to collect their soft plastics and use the drop-off collection points as soft plastics cannot go in your Auckland Council kerbside recycling bin. Putting the right stuff in your recycling bin is important. When people throw soft plastics in their recycling bin, it causes major problems at the recycling facility as soft plastics jam the sorting equipment,” says Sood.
"We also encourage Aucklanders – both producers and consumers – to look for ways to avoid unnecessary product packaging and minimise plastic consumption.”
The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is being reinstated on a gradual basis, to ensure that what is collected can be processed. The plan is to increase collections to other areas around New Zealand as recycling capacity grows.
The Packaging Forum is partnering with two organisations, Second Life Plastics and Future Post, to receive the soft plastics collected through the scheme.
Levin-based company Second Life Plastics will use the collected material to create a range of products, such as ducting for underground cables. Future Post will combine the soft plastic materials supplied with other plastics to manufacture plastic fence posts here in New Zealand.
Full details about accepted types of soft plastics are available on The Packaging Forum’s website.
Start your zero waste journey
Reducing our waste is a journey and, for many, it’s one taken in small steps. No matter where we are in this journey, we can all stop and consider the impact of the products we buy and what we decide to do with them when we finish using them.
It’s worth thinking about how much packaging a certain product has. Can it be reused or recycled, or will it go straight to landfill? When we’re doing our regular grocery shop, being mindful of packaging can help us make better buying decisions.
If you’re interested in reducing your overall consumption of soft plastics, this article has our top tips. What’s left can be recycled through the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.