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Plastics NZ Calls for Action on Recycling Rates


Plastics New Zealand’s CEO Rachel Barker says that current plastic recycling rates aren’t high enough and that further action is urgently required.

Ms Barker was responding to the results of a WasteMINZ study, which was released today, and which showed that 65% of our #1, #2 and #5 plastics* are collected for kerbside recycling.

“These rates are encouraging – but they’re still not good enough. Over 50% of NZ’s post-consumer plastic packaging made from these materials is recycled – but while that’s much higher than has been assumed in the past – there’s still a lot more that we could be doing”

“For example, many Councils don’t currently collect polypropylene (#5*) even though there is a strong end market for this material. Increasing the rate of collection would hugely improve the recycling statistics and this valuable material could be reprocessed right here in NZ”.

“Plastics NZ is currently working with Councils to achieve this goal”.
Ms Barker has also proposed a range of steps which should be taken to further improve plastic recycling rates, including:

• Further education on good recycling etiquette. (Figures show New Zealanders are putting more than 8 million soft drink bottles with liquid in them, and 1.8 million stinky milk bottles into their recycling bins)

• Improved Industry labelling of plastic packaging to ensure that we don’t send over 5,000 tonnes of unidentifiable plastics to landfill each year.

• Changing the colour of plastic packaging to natural or light colours so that over 4,000 tonnes of coloured PET (#1*) from landfill can potentially be diverted

• Improvement roadside collection and sorting processes and infrastructure to ensure that over 20,000 tonnes of plastics that can be reprocessed in NZ doesn’t end up in the landfill.

Ms Barker says that Plastics New Zealand is working closely with a wide range of stakeholders across the plastics, packaging and resource recovery sector to help ensure New Zealand establishes a low-emissions, circular-economy for plastics – but that more cooperation is needed between Government, Councils and the industry.

Plastics NZ is the industry association providing a voice for its Members and supporting New Zealand’s plastics manufacturers, suppliers and brand owners to maximise their success in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner.

* Addendum:
#1 (PET, polyethylene terephthalate): Soft-drink bottles, clear meat trays, clear fruit & vege punnets
#2 (HDPE, high-density polyethylene): Milk bottles, cleaner bottles,
#5 (PP, polypropylene): Ice-cream, margarine and 1 litre yoghurt containers, hummus and dip containers.


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