21 Dec 2018

Soft plastic recycling scheme dumped for summer

7:59 pm on 21 December 2018

All soft plastics will go to landfill from the end of the year, due to a massive backlog in recycling.

Soft plastic packaging recycling bin

Stores will stop collecting soft plastic for recycling over the summer. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme chairperson Malcolm Everts said overseas processing has shut down and Kiwis have been collecting more plastic than can be recycled in New Zealand.

Two local firms are increasing their recycling production, but suspending collections of soft plastics for the summer will give the scheme time to build capacity.

While many councils do not collect plastic bags and soft plastic wrappers, stores that were accepting them will stop on 31 December.

The scheme, that turns soft plastics into items such as plastic fence posts and ducting, will start again in April next year.

The removal of single use carrier bags from all New Zealand supermarkets from 1 January would help reduce plastic volumes, Mr Everts said.

Anti-waste campaigner Lesley Ottey is criticising the lack of planning in suspending the scheme at a busy time of year.

"Their timing is garbage - schools are closed, we can't get the message out, councils are winding down, supermarkets are overwhelmingly busy - and they've given us to the 31st of December to drop all our soft plastics off and then the scheme closes for the summer," she said.

More recycling facilities would be great, but the best solution was to minimise plastic waste and packaging, Ms Ottey said.

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