This month over 200,000 Auckland households have increased recycling capability as Rodney, Hibiscus Coast, North Shore and Waitakere recycling services come in line with Auckland.
Until now, residents in these areas have had to recycle cardboard and paper separately, and have been unable to recycle milk and juice cartons and Tetra Pak ® packaging.
But we ask that new and seasoned recyclers remember that plastic bags and other soft plastics still can’t go in the recycling bins.
Why? Well although the facility where all the recycling materials are sorted has some amazing processes, the machinery isn’t set up for plastic bags.
In fact soft plastics can clog up the machinery and can contaminate the material.
Image: Plastic bags wrapping around the sorting machinery that have to be removed by hand. Courtesy: Visy.
It's not all rubbish
The good news is that thanks to an industry-funded initiative, shops across Auckland - including New World, Pak’n’Save, Countdown, The Warehouse and Farro Fresh - have set up collection points for soft plastics and packaging.
By this we mean shopping bags, bread bags, frozen food bags, the plastic wrap around items such as toilet and kitchen towel rolls, empty chip packets, pasta and rice as well as food wrap.
Basically, anything made of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball.
The plastic is collected by Abilities Group, a Glenfield based organisation that specialises in employing people with disabilities. Abilities Group collects, stores and packages the soft plastics into bales at their facility.
It is then shipped to a facility in Melbourne that turns the plastic into a variety of products including bollards, traffic speed bumps, decking and tracking, and outdoor furniture.
Can you believe it? Your recycled soft plastics can be turned into outdoor furniture like this park bench.
What you can do
To get started, keep an empty plastic bag in the kitchen and pop your soft plastic in it. Once you get started you’ll be surprised at how many food and grocery products come wrapped in soft plastic and how quickly you fill an empty shopping bag with plastic – which you can then recycle on your next supermarket trip. With over 125 drop off locations across the Auckland region, it’s not hard to find somewhere close by to recycle.
Did you know?
New Zealanders use over 1.6 billion plastic bags in the home every year. That’s 4.3 million bags per day.
The programme is funded by brand owners and manufacturers with matched funding from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund.