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Paper recycling resumes in Auckland

Some mixed plastics will go to landfill

Published: 6 May 2020

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To meet our waste objectives, we need to move from a throwaway culture towards a circular economy with more sustainable choices.

Paper and cardboard recycling processing in Auckland will resume as normal for May, as Auckland Council has been able to secure an overseas market for up to 4000 tonnes of mixed paper and cardboard materials.

However, plastics numbered 3-7 will now need to be separated out after collection and sent to landfill as the council has been unable to secure a market for these materials.

These plastics represent less than 4 per cent of the total recycling market in Auckland.

Plastics 3-7 are more difficult to recycle, and it is expected it could take at least three months before adequate markets resume. Recycling markets for paper and cardboard will be evaluated on a month to month basis.

Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee says,

“My message to Aucklanders is to keep putting your recycling out as normal while we work out a solution. We will make sure we recycle everything we can and take out what we can’t at our end.

“Auckland has the most extensive recycling collection system in the country. Even with the market disruptions, we’re still recycling 96 per cent of materials including aluminium, steel, glass, paper and most plastics.

“It’s great that we have found a market solution for our paper, cardboard and other fibre products, but the recent requirement to landfill some of our plastics highlights the need for us to be able to deal with our recycling onshore, instead of relying on other countries.

“To meet our waste objectives, we need to move from a throwaway culture towards a circular economy with more sustainable choices.

“We will continue to advocate for better recycling capacity in New Zealand and to reduce single-use plastic. Everybody needs to reduce their waste.”

Notes on plastic recycling:

  • The numbers in the triangles are the product's Resin Identification Code. They identify the plastic resin the product is made of and allow manufacturers and sorters to categorise the different plastics
  • The plastics that are impacted by this change are commonly used for meat trays, takeaway packaging, and containers for dips, yoghurt or sour cream
  • Auckland Council will continue to recycle plastics numbers 1 and 2, commonly used for soft drink and juice bottles, milk bottles, shampoos, detergent, and salad dressing
  • Drink bottles are the most common plastic used in New Zealand, with an average of 188 per household per year. These are still being recycled
  • Plastics 1 and 2 are roughly 77 per cent of the plastic collected in kerbside recycling in New Zealand, according to a WasteMINZ audit
  • Use this Auckland Council website search tool to learn which materials are recyclable. 
Read more: Waste

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