The roll-out of a soft plastics recycling scheme in Nelson today means New World, Countdown and Pak’nSave supermarkets in the South Island will offer the service, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Love NZ Soft Plastics Recycling Programme is the next logical step for households in reducing waste. It means people can take the likes of bread bags, shopping bags and frozen vege bags to these supermarkets for collection, re-manufacture and re-use,” Dr Smith says.
“Most households now recycle paper, cardboard, glass, metal cans and hard plastic containers, and the extra challenge with soft plastics was finding a practical way of collecting them and keeping them clean enough for re-use. The programme is already running in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Canterbury and will now roll out to stores from Nelson to Invercargill.
“These additional South Island locations mean the programme reaches its goal of 70 per cent of New Zealanders having access to a drop-off facility within 20km of their home.
“A Government Waste Minimisation Fund grant of $700,930 supports this joint initiative between the retail sector, the packaging industry and the Government to enable the recycling of soft plastics.
“The soft plastic collected is turned into useful products such as benches and bollards, extending the life of this valuable resource. The programme will now be available at more than 350 stores nationwide, and includes South Island New World, Countdown and Pak’nSave supermarkets.
“This initiative builds on the work we have done with hard plastics, like the opening last month of the Flight Plastics processing facility in Lower Hutt, which received a $4 million Government grant. This facility has the capacity to turn more than 200 million plastic drink bottles a year into high grade food-safe packaging.
“The soft plastics programme is a great example of how businesses can make positive changes that enable every-day New Zealanders to divert plastic waste from ending up as litter or landfill. Its North Island roll-out will continue next year, with Rotorua, Tauranga and Palmerston North.
“The success of the programme to date clearly shows New Zealanders’ enthusiasm for reducing waste to landfill. This year more than 200 tonnes of soft plastics have already been collected for recycling.
“It is needed regardless of the debate on single use shopping bags. I welcome the announcement yesterday by Foodstuffs that they are exploring a charge on single use supermarket bags but the soft plastics problem is far larger than just the single use supermarket bags.
“This innovative and collaborative approach has proved successful in other locations and I’m looking forward to seeing Nelsonians embrace it,” Dr Smith concluded.