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Transferring the plastic problem

There have been lots of mix-ups about the changes to the plastics accepted for recycling at the local transfer stations. Jo Shanks checked out the official version and reported back in the Plastic Free Te Hiku Facebook group, it’s copied here to reach a wider audience:

Hi, there has been some confusion as to what plastics can be recycled at the transfer stations (kerbisde is different, see further down).

Here is the up to date info from Simon Millichamp, the Solid Waste Manager for the FNDC. 

FNDC Refuse Transfer Stations now accept:

Plastics #1 – clear and coloured bottles, clean clear meat trays, biscuit trays. Note these must have the #1 recycling symbol

Plastic #2 – milk and cream bottles (including Anchor products), opaque bottles/containers . Note these must have the #2 recycling symbol.

If you have any problems with staff you could let Northland Waste Management know, some staff have misunderstood what is now accepted.

As the curbside collection is a private business Northland Waste have control over what they accept, the FNDC sites are controlled by the FNDC! So yes, whatever they say goes for curbside, there’s not much we can do, except refuse, reduce, reuse!

I’ve let both sides know their stories don’t match, but in the meantime we should start a conversation with them both about how unhappy we are that solid plastics such as these are not processed in NZ, and if the FNDC or other councils were looking into investing in necessary infrastructure this should be a priority.

FNDC will make sure all 1 and 2 plastics are collected at their sites, and are recycled. The plastics are going to the same place as they were with Cleanstream, the whole industry is under pressure, and realistically we should be moving away from using toxic petroleum plastics unless there are processing plants in NZ, and if there is a market for recycled plastic. Northland Waste is paid under contract by the FNDC to collect recycling from the FNDC centres and send them to be processed.

Apparently Reclaim, the only NZ processors of plastics 1 and 2 are finding it difficult to find purchasers for janitorial plastics, manufacturers are not made to use recycled plastics, and virgin plastics are cheaper… changes are well overdue, real sustainable systems need to be in place.

Actually, perhaps now is the time to talk about banning the use of single use petroleum plastic products entirely; reusable or compostable packaging all the way!

In the long range China is also indicating the days of accepting paper and cardboard are drawing to a close, I always thought pulp was all processed in NZ, but as our numbers have increased our infrastructure has not. Time for the government to raise the landfill levies, product stewardship, and work toward a circular economy.

by Jo Shanks

CBEC Ecosolutions

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