A joint initiative between the retail sector, the packaging industry and the Government to enable the recycling of soft plastics that previously could not be was officially launched in Auckland this morning by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“This programme will, for the first time, enable soft plastics and soft packaging such as shopping bags, bread bags, frozen food bags and food wrap to be recycled. Bins have been installed at 70 New World, Pak ‘n’ Save, Countdown and The Warehouse stores in Auckland. The success of this venture depends on households developing a culture of collecting soft plastics and depositing them in the new drop-off facilities,” Dr Smith says.
“The Government has provided $700,000 from the Waste Minimisation Fund towards this project. The aim is to provide 70 per cent of New Zealanders with access to a drop-off facility within a 20-kilometre drive. The programme will eventually be expanded to other regions, including Hamilton, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago, Bay of Plenty and the Manawatu during its three-year lifetime.”
The Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund provides financial support to projects that reduce environmental harm and provide social, economic and cultural benefits. It is funded from a levy introduced by the National-led Government in 2009, which is charged on waste disposed of at landfills to discourage waste and to fund recycling initiatives. Over $60 million has been awarded to more than 120 projects from the Fund to date.
The $700,000 contribution from the Government for the Soft Plastics Recycling Programme is being matched by contributions from retailers and selected brands, bringing the total funding for the project to over $1.3 million. The programme is being run by the Packaging Forum, which was set up to promote the recycling of packaging. The Forum comprises a number of material suppliers, manufacturers, users, sellers, retailers and local government.
“This soft plastics recycling initiative makes sense in that it does not just target plastic shopping bags that make up only 0.2 per cent of the total waste stream in New Zealand, but all soft plastics. We have made good progress with kerbside recycling now being standard practice for households, enabling the bulk of glass, hard plastics and paper to be recycled. Targeting these soft plastics is the next logical step for increasing recycling in New Zealand.”
Further information on the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund is available from: www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/waste/waste-minimisation-fund/index.html.