For the first time, New Zealanders can easily recycle soft plastics. Through a partnership approach across brands, manufacturers, retailers, government and social enterprises, this project has introduced drop-off points at major retail outlets.
Most soft plastic packaging is single use. Yet until recently there have been limited, if any, options for recycling the soft packaging materials that make up much of a typical household’s waste. These include shopping bags, food bags, confectionary wrap, courier bags and wrap around sanitary hygiene products.
The scheme started in November 2015 in 70 supermarkets and The Warehouse stores in Auckland. A year later the scheme has more than doubled, with approximately 200 stores in Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury. Further expansion is expected to Wellington, Otago, Bay of Plenty and Manawatu over the coming months.
The collected plastics are sent for processing at Replas Australia. They are recycled into new objects such as park benches, bins, bollards, decking and playground infrastructure. This reduces the virgin plastics that were previously used in the production of these products.
So far 41 tonnes of soft plastic bags and wrappers have been collected, equivalent to around 7.6 million items. Volumes continue to increase week on week, and 50% of New Zealanders now have access to the service within 20km of their home or work.
Packaging Forum is a finalist in the Community Impact category of the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.