Auckland’s recycling takes a step into the future

Publish Date : 09 Aug 2022
Visy Recycling Centre

The sorting of Auckland’s household recyclables is about to take a big step up with Visy’s recycling sorting facility getting an upgrade.

The Onehunga Materials Recovery Facility was built in 2008, and introduction of new technology will increase the quality and diversity of recycled paper and cardboard to be sold in markets.

Parul Sood, Waste Solutions General Manager at Auckland Council says, “The facility is being upgraded with a $16.6 million COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) grant to improve the accuracy of our recycling, resulting in better products and less contamination.

“It’s exciting for Auckland to have such an up-to-date facility that is going a long way towards reducing the amount of waste to landfill and ensuring we can recycle as much as possible. It’s a win for not only residents but also the environment.

“Paper and cardboard materials are one of the common recyclables collected from households, making up around 40 per cent of what the facility processes each year. The total processing capacity of the recycling plant will increase by 28 per cent, from 140,000 to 180,000 tonnes per annum, and improve the quality of sorted material, which provides some security in a changing market.

“It will also mean more diverse recycling streams, such as more plastic grades and cardboard being sorted from paper, creating more sought-after material and getting our sorting accuracy standard to 98 per cent,” shares Ms Sood.

The upgrade gets underway on 12 August and will take about 8 weeks.  During this time, the facility will be closed, but there will be no disruption to kerbside collections; they will continue as usual. While some of the materials collected during this period will be required to go to landfill, alternative arrangements have been made to keep levels to a minimum, including processing some recycling at a nearby facility, and undertaking recycling of commercial glass.

“The upgraded recycling centre will offer huge benefits for years to come, and we urge Aucklanders to keep up their good habits and continue to recycle as they usually do.”

The investment will, in the longer-term, help more recycling materials be used here in New Zealand, rather than overseas. A recent upgrade to the plastic sorting equipment at the facility has kept 1/3 of our plastics in New Zealand. Further investment is needed within other recycling processing facilities, like for paper, to create materials that can be used in local manufacturing.

In keeping with the spirit of the facility, as much as possible of the old machinery that is being dismantled will be reused and the remainder recycled.   

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