Recyclable plastic still being dumped - waste report

City custodian Peter Moroney delivers a Dunedin City Council Welcome To Your Flat pack, which...
City custodian Peter Moroney delivers a Dunedin City Council Welcome To Your Flat pack, which includes information for students about rubbish collection and recycling. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A report due at the end of this month will give the Dunedin City Council a better understanding of how much plastic which could have been recycled is going to landfill.

Some Dunedin households were among 867 in eight places across the country which had their household rubbish and recycling analysed as part of research by the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand.

The institute’s report, The Truth about Plastic Recycling in Aotearoa New Zealand, released this month, found that 41% of the items found nationally could have been recycled but ended up in landfill.

Among the reasons for this were confusion about what could be recycled, lack of uniform labelling, poor understanding of recycling labels and no standardisation of what is accepted for recycling around the country.

The institute was concerned that despite the good recycling potential for plastics labelled 1 and 2, used for many plastic bottles, many were still being put into landfill.

DCC group manager of waste and environmental solutions Chris Henderson said the Dunedin-specific report would outline the potential recycling which was going to landfill.

The overall report would include information about rubbish from private commercial collections as well as the DCC official black bags.

Although the council has a 450-tonne stockpile of paper for recycling, due to a loss of markets, it is not stockpiling plastic recycling.

In response to questions about how well Dunedin people complied with recycling rules, Mr Henderson said kerbside recycling inspections were held during the year and feedback was provided if there were incorrect items.

‘‘We also let people know when their recycling hits the mark by giving them a ‘Wow Thank You’ tag.’’

Other tags left on recycling bins pointed out what items can be recycled and what could not.

‘‘These tags help encourage people to recycle the correct items in a fun and friendly way.’’

The council would be promoting its recently-developed phone app which included information about kerbside recycling .

The most common incorrect items were soft plastics.

Products that could be recycled were rigid plastic packaging containers with lids on, tins and cans, aluminium trays and foil, flattened cardboard, all paper, magazines, egg cartons, empty pizza boxes and telephone directories without the cover.

Students new to the city are given a ‘‘ Welcome to Your Flat’’ pack which includes information about about kerbside recycling. Staff also attended Orientation Week to provide kerbside collection information and tips on minimising waste, he said.

The roving Campus Watch team could also give advice in this area.

Not allowed

Most common errors with Dunedin kerbside recycling:

• chip packets

• bread bags

• frozen food bags

• polystyrene

• milk/juice cartons

National plastic use

• New Zealand households dispose of 1.76 billion plastic containers in rubbish or recycling.

• The average household uses 941 plastic containers or bottles a year.

• 68 million drink bottles (recyclable plastic 1) end up in landfill each year.

• 29 million dairy containers (recyclable plastic 2) end up in landfill each year.

• 181 million containers in New Zealand lack visible information on recyclability.

• 258 million containers made from coloured plastic can  be used only for bins or pallets.

• 46 million bottles are covered by plastic sleeves which prevent them being recycled properly.

• 2678 tonnes of New Zealand’s plastic  containers do not always get a second life.

- Waste Management Institute of New Zealand report The Truth about Plastic Recycling in Aotearoa New Zealand’

ELSPETH.MCLEAN @thestar.co.nz

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