Companies tackling plastic problems

Posted at 10:21am Tuesday 21 May, 2019

The recycling bins for plastic bags and soft plastic packaging are back, but it looks as though, initially at least, they will not be making an appearance on the Hibiscus Coast.

The scheme, run by The Packaging Forum, provided bins for soft plastic located in local supermarkets. It was halted last December, after much of the plastic had to be stockpiled, once Australia refused to take any more.

The Soft Plastic Recycling bins came back at 37 Countdown, The Warehouse, and Huckleberry stores across Auckland this week. The Packaging Forum is phasing in the service while it establishes collection volumes and, as Hibiscus Matters goes to print it looks as though no local stores are in the first group. Customers can see which stores are offering the service on the store locator at recycling.kiwi.nz, from May 17.

Although they supported it in the past, Foodstuffs, which owns New World, Pak ‘n' Save and Four Square supermarkets, will not be part of the scheme this time around.

In a press release, Foodstuffs sustainability manager, Mike Sammons, says this is because it is a vastly reduced scheme which, he says, does little to address the core problem – the prevalence of problematic packaging materials.

“The recycling infrastructure needed for goods made from soft plastics to make the scheme viable and sustainable, simply isn't there right now. But, as soon as there are significant developments that make for a more sustainable recycling solution for soft plastics – we'll certainly reconsider our position,” Mr Sammons says.

He says Foodstuffs is instead investing in initiatives which include banning the sale of plastic straws, plastic cotton buds and plastic applicator tampons; trialling home compostable packaging, incorporating recycled plastic into new packaging, working with suppliers to reformat their packaging and extending the trial of BYO containers. The BYO policy will see customers at Foodstuffs stores able to use their own clean, leak-proof containers at the in-store butchery, seafood, delicatessen and bakery. The policy kicks off from June 1.

Another soft plastic scheme
This month, Australian company TerraCycle launched its own soft plastic recycling scheme called The Glad Food Storage Recycling Programme. To participate, companies, individuals or organisations sign up online, collect and then send all their waste plastic packaging, including clingwrap, ziplock bags, and accepted containers in any cardboard box. They can free ship it through NZ Post to TerraCycle, which melts it into pellets to be used as an alternative to virgin plastic. Every shipment over 2kg earns collectors $0.02 per unit of waste toward their nominated school or charity. Collectors also have the option of becoming a TerraCycle public drop-off point. Currently there are none on the Hibiscus Coast, and TerraCycle is keen to hear from anyone who wants to get involved.

Alongside this, there is a competition that encourages New Zealanders to recycle soft plastics, as well as win one of two prizes of $1000 plus an equivalent donation to their nominated school or charity. The competition is open now and closes on August 31. Info: www.terracycle.com/en-NZ/brigades/glad-food-storage-brigade


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