Push to avoid some goods as recycling changes

The recycling wheelie bins were out in Alexandra on Wednesday but their contents are likely to be...
PHOTO: JARED MORGAN
Plastic will end up in landfill if people do not shop more consciously, Queenstown and Central Otago councils are warning, ahead of changes to collections.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Central Otago District Council will ban certain plastics, as well as pizza boxes, from their yellow domestic recycling bins from December 1, following a similar move in Balclutha.

Takeaway pizza company Domino’s said it was "disappointed" by the decision and had urged people who bought its products to compost the boxes.

Only plastic marked 1 and made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), such as clear water bottles; marked 2 and made of high-density polyethylene, used for household goods such as shampoo; or marked 5 and made of polypropylene, for holding yoghurt, will be accepted.

All other plastic containers, with any other number on them, must be put into the red landfill bin.

Such items include soft plastics, meat trays, biscuit trays, punnets, and PET coloured bottles.

Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman Jack Barlow said the change was a result of international agreements due to come into effect on January 1; no country was accepting imports of hard-to-recycle plastics and New Zealand did not have its own facility to process them.

The Government was considering banning plastic marked 3, which was often used for meat trays and punnets, Mr Barlow said.

Until then, the council wanted residents to actively avoid buying products with these plastics and suggested on its website they write to manufacturers to raise concerns.

"Consumers can have a huge influence on manufacturers and retailers."

On social media, some people have been critical of the changes and suggested they are too complicated.

In response, Mr Barlow said the "majority of the people living in the district are conscious of the waste they produce" and would want to reduce it.

The council was happy to offer support to those who needed help or guidance and admitted some were not recycling correctly at present.

"We do see high levels of contamination at times, mainly caused by food and liquid or non-recyclable materials."

These included garden buckets, washing baskets, hoses and broken toys.

Council guidance on pizza boxes said to compost the cardboard, use them to start fires "or better yet, dine in or make your own to avoid the waste altogether".

Domino’s New Zealand general manager Cameron Toomey said this was "disappointing to hear" when locally owned businesses were operating "under tighter economic restrictions".

The Gore District Council announced earlier this year it would not be recycling any plastic, paper or steel cans, with all but green waste and glass going to landfill.

An Invercargill City Council spokeswoman said discussions were ongoing with contractors regarding changes.

matthew.mckew@odt.co.nz

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