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Plastic bottles 1 and 2: lids off, washed and squashed

From May 1, the only plastics being collected for recycling across the Hastings district are plastic bottles with the numbers 1 or 2 stamped on them.

The aim is to collect the plastic Council knows will be recycled. Being extra careful about what is collected vastly reduces the risk that bales of collected plastics will end up in a landfill.

Council can only collect the plastics the recyclers want, and it has to be clean.

To achieve that, Council made the decision in late March to limit the plastic collection to bottles numbered 1 and 2 only.

The bottles must be washed and cannot be mixed with items made from different grades of plastic.

So, why not trays and punnets?

In Hastings, the plastics sorting line is manual. It relies on people being able to easily identify the right plastics at speed, as the items rattle past them.

While some trays and punnets are 1 and 2 plastics, many have different numbers – plastics the recyclers do not want mixed in with the product they do want. If they are, the whole bale is likely to be rejected and end up in landfill.

It is almost impossible for the different trays and punnets to be sorted effectively during a manual process.

Hastings is not alone in facing this issue. Councils all across the country (and the world) are adapting to what is a rapidly changing recycling world.

Each council and its contractors have to make the best decisions they can, depending on the sorting infrastructure they have and the markets they can secure.

Be conscious consumers

Of course the real issue is the amount of plastic produced, says Hastings deputy mayor and Joint Waste Futures Committee chairman Tania Kerr.

“Hastings and other councils are collectively involved in moves at the national level to have changes made to packaging.

“But to help reinforce that, Council is encouraging residents to apply pressure as consumers. That means reducing how much plastic we buy and, when we have no choice but to buy it, making sure we choose plastics that can and will be recycled whenever possible: Bottles 1 and 2, lids off, washed and squashed.”

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