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Improvements to plastic recycling in Tairāwhiti

5 Nov 2020

Improvements to plastic recycling in Tairāwhiti

Grade 5 plastics, which include products such as ice cream and yoghurt containers, can now be recycled with kerbside collection in the district.

Council contractor Waste Management has secured a sustainable New Zealand market for grade 5 plastics that has enabled the kerbside collection of these products and drop-off at city and rural transfer stations.

“This is great news for Tairāwhiti and will contribute to a significant reduction of waste going to landfill in our region,” said Council’s waste minimisation facilitator, Darnelle Timbs.

“Lots of commonly used food items come in grade 5 plastic packaging – remember to check the number typically found at the bottom of the product and if it’s 1,2 or 5 - it can go in your recycling bin.”

All recyclable product needs to be rinsed clean of food residue, with lids removed. Any product that is contaminated with food can’t be recycled and will end up in landfills.

“It’s essential that we as a community recycle correctly to ensure we don’t miss any opportunity to reduce household waste. It doesn’t take long to rinse product clean and will make a huge impact on the amount we can recycle,” Ms Timbs said.

“The choices you make when you shop are also very powerful when it comes to cutting waste. Opt for items with the least amount of packaging, or packaging that can be recycled.”

This latest change comes amid significant challenges for the global recycling market. Last year plastic recycling was limited to just grades 1 and 2 as there was no sustainable local market for other grades.

Now grade 5 plastics can be reprocessed in New Zealand into granule form as an alternative to imported virgin plastic granules.

Waste Management branch manager Michael Ayton said they had also secured back-up export markets for grade 5 in case the local market changes or becomes saturated.

“However this will only occur if absolutely necessarily. Preference will be given to local markets and we have confidence in this market into the future.”

For a full guide on what’s recyclable, check our recycling page and also visit the Ministry for Environment website(external link) for tips on how to shop smart and reduce waste this summer.