Soft plastics recycling on hold

Soft plastics waste is likely going back into landfills across the southern region, following the removal of soft plastic recycling bins at local supermarkets.

The Packaging Forum's Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme has been operating in Countdown and Foodstuffs (New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square) stores since 2015.

However, the nationwide supermarket chains were forced to remove the recycling bins after The Packaging Forum stopped the scheme last month.

Foodstuffs New Zealand's external relations head, Antoinette Laird, said all Foodstuffs stores removed their soft plastic recycling bins when the suspension of the scheme was announced last month.

''Unfortunately, the scheme has been a victim of its own success for a few key reasons.

''It has been embraced enthusiastically by customers, there is a lack of capacity for processing and a lack of demand for re-processed products.''

She said the plastics were processed into new long-life products, which included benches, bollards, decking, plastic posts and ducting for electric cables.

''Prior to offering this service, the soft plastics would have gone to landfill.''

At present, only 20 tonnes out of the 60 tonnes collected monthly was now reprocessed through two small reprocessors. The other 40 tonnes were either stockpiled or sent to landfill.

Ms Laird said the company's New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square stores were committed to sustainable solutions to reduce plastic waste.

Foodstuffs' key focus was now on reducing plastic packaging in its stores across its ''private label'' products, working with suppliers to review their packaging and the removal of single-use plastic bags at the checkout at all stores on January 1, 2019.

She said it was also exploring a number of ''exciting new avenues'' to help reduce soft plastic waste among other products.

''Foodstuffs has worked closely with The Forum in the hope that new reprocessors could be found to take the material...

''Foodstuffs is right behind The Packaging Forum in expanding the market for this challenging material and would be happy to recommence collection and recycling if the demand and supply situation changes.''

A Packaging Forum spokesman said the company hoped to resume a sustainable service in April.

''We've been extremely encouraged by Kiwis' commitment to recycling their soft plastics, yet changes to global recycling have meant that we're now collecting more than we can currently process in New Zealand.

''A suspension to the service will give us time to work with existing processing partners to build capacity, as well as find new and innovative processing solutions.

''We hope you understand that we need to take short term action to ensure the long-term success of the scheme.''


That really sucks, but i won't be stockpiling our plastics incase April comes and goes without word of the service resuming.

Really disappointing, but hopefully it never happens again when it resumes.