Plastic recycling financially and functionally falls apart

The Waitaki Resource Recovery Park. Photo: ODT
The Waitaki Resource Recovery Park. Photo: ODT
Finding a solution to the Waitaki Resource Recovery Trust's current cash crunch could mean Waitaki residents will have to bin plastics they now recycle.

Yesterday, the Waitaki District Council approved $40,000 in urgent financial assistance due to the collapse of global recycling markets on the condition the trust provides the council with its monthly accounts, and the council's ''continuing satisfaction'' with the financial health of the organisation.

The trust was also required to present the council's assets committee with changes it plans in the operations at the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park, in Chelmer St, Oamaru, in order to become financially viable in the depressed recycling market climate.

Before a unanimous council vote in favour of the decision, Cr Melanie Tavendale pledged her support for the proposal but said she would need to see more than a six-month plan.

''We need to support you guys. It's an important service. And if it wasn't there, I think our community would tell us how important it is,'' she said.

Trust manager Dave Clare, who last week said operational changes were to be in place at the recovery park by July 1, said while glass and plastic types, including those used in milk bottles, food containers and cleaning products, still had good markets, certain plastic products ''have got no future''.

Of the seven types of plastics - all of which are accepted at the recovery park now - plastics numbered 3 to 7 were ''a problem at the moment''.

The trust could have to ''change our whole programme''.

At the end of May, two 40ft containers full of plastic would be taken off site at no return but at no further cost to the trust.

The trust had since secured the removal of ''two or three'' more containers which would clear most of the stockpiled plastic at the recovery park but, he said, ''the future from there is bleak''.

One outcome of the review could be a required ''re-education of the public''.

''For the past 15 years we've said recycle, recycle, recycle,'' Mr Clare said.

''Until a year ago, we could get rid of everything, but the world has changed. There will be decisions made that may not be popular.''

When Cr Jim Hopkins asked whether the proposed review would result in changes creating redundancies at the recovery park, Mr Clare said it would depend ''on what sort of plan we work out''.

The council gives the trust an annual grant of $242,000.

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