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Wellingtonians urged to take their soft plastics back to stores for recycling

Posted on:
19 Oct 2016

A recycling scheme that’s already kept millions of plastic bags out of landfills launched today in the capital, and Wellingtonians are being urged to play their part.

The Soft Plastic Recycling Programme is already running in Auckland, the Waikato and Canterbury, and in its first ten months has collected almost 60 tonnes, including 15 million plastic bags.

Last November, Environment Minister Nick Smith raised eyebrows when he launched the scheme in a pair of high heels made of recycled soft plastics.

Now, he and other residents of the capital can also get involved by bringing their soft plastics back to participating New World and PAK'nSAVE stores, where they can deposit them in special bins.

Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Sustainability Manager, Mike Sammons says Wellingtonians like himself are often reminded on a windy day just how much soft plastics recycling is needed.

“It’s not uncommon around these parts to see plastic bags and wrappers getting blown about by the wind, snagged in bushes, clogging up drains, and heading out to sea,” says Sammons.

“So while we lead the country politically, and are often out in front with environmental initiatives, now we really need to get on board with this Soft Plastic Recycling scheme to make Wellington an even better place to live.”

The scheme has surpassed all expectations in terms of volume collected since its launch. September saw 3 tonnes of packaging material dropped off at all participating stores, with 73 percent coming from Foodstuffs stores.

“I’m proud to say our New World and PAK’nSAVE supermarkets filled the first 23 places, in terms of volume, with five Auckland stores fighting it out at the top.”

“Now, if anything’s going to get Wellingtonians to bring their soft plastic back too, it’s their desire to prove that anything Aucklanders can do, they can do better. And I’d really love to see the collection points in our region quickly climb to the top of the table in terms of the kilos received each month.”

The programme is managed by the Packaging Forum, which was set-up to promote the recycling of packaging, and includes suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and local government. Over $1.3 million is being spent on the scheme over three years, with $700,000 coming from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund, and the remainder being paid for by manufacturers and retailers.

The aim is to provide 70 per cent of New Zealanders with access to a drop-off facility within a 20km drive. The next regions to get the programme will Otago, Bay of Plenty and the Manawatu.

After it’s collected, the material is sorted, baled and sent to reprocessors in both New Zealand and Australian. Its end-uses include outdoor furniture, decking, bollards and even other recycling bins.

“This is a great ‘closed loop’ solution to a sustainability issue all us have an interest in addressing,” concludes Sammons. “Now Wellingtonians have the greenlight to get involved, let’s see them do it!”