All those plastic bags floating around after shopping expeditions can now be recycled under a joint initiative between the retail sector, the packaging industry and the Government.
The Love New Zealand Soft Plastics Recycling programme was launched in Dunedin yesterday, and will enable soft plastics and soft packaging such as shopping bags, bread bags, frozen food bags and food wrap to be recycled at the 14 New World, Countdown, FreshChoice, Pak’n Save and The Warehouse stores in Dunedin and Mosgiel.
Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson said the programme was already running in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Canterbury.
About 300 shops nationwide accepted soft plastics recycling, and more than 215 tonnes had been collected for recycling.
“The objective is for 70% of New Zealanders to have access to a drop-off facility for soft plastics within 20km of their home,” he said.
The $700,000 contribution from the Government’s waste minimisation fund was being matched by contributions from retailers and some suppliers, bringing the total project funding to more than $1.6million.
The programme is being run by the Packaging Forum, set up to promote the recycling of packaging.
Packaging Forum project manager Lyn Mayes said Cargill Enterprises would collect the recycled plastics from the shops.
It would work with Waste Management, which would bale the materials ready for shipment to the programme’s manufacturing partner, Replas, in Melbourne.
Retail New Zealand public affairs general manager Greg Harford welcomed the programme’s extension to Dunedin.
The programme helped reduce the environmental impact of plastic by diverting soft plastics from landfill, and recycling volume was well up over the past 18 months, he said.
“Retail New Zealand hopes the programme will be as successful in Dunedin as it has been elsewhere in the country, and we expect Kiwis will be increasingly keen to make use of the service as they learn more about it.”