Insights

Winning the Battle against Soft Plastics

By Cassie Merrick Oct 18, 2016

The amount of soft plastic waste (plastic bags, bread bags, frozen food bags, biscuits wrappers etc.) that my household generates on a weekly basis never ceases to amaze me. Particularly, as we make a conscious effort to avoid it where we can, using reusable shopping bags and avoiding products that are packaged with excessive amounts of soft plastic. Like most local councils in New Zealand, my region's kerbside recycling does not currently accept soft plastics for recycling. So unfortunately with no other means to recycle it, I am left with no other option but to cringe as I think of how much of it I am sending off to my local landfill every week.

For this reason, I was relieved to hear about a new industry, community and government partnership which would see an exciting new ‘Soft Plastic Recycling’ initiative coming to my region in the near future. The initiative involves the placement of soft plastic recycling bins outside large supermarkets and retail chains throughout New Zealand where consumers can drop off their soft plastics for recycling, free of charge. The project is funded by the retail sector and packaging industry with matched funding coming from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund. I was pleased to see a solution to my soft plastics conundrum and to also see the industry, community and government all coming together to provide a solution for such a prevalent problem. Since the first bins were launched in July 2015, over 14.5 million soft plastic bags have been recycled including, 1.2 million bread bags, 600,000 frozen food bags and 600,000 toilet roll bags.

soft plastics bin

In 2008, the New Zealand Government introduced a new waste levy which would provide the funding needed to support its Waste Minimisation Fund. This levy now collects approximately $10 - $12 million of funds every year which goes towards supporting innovative projects just like the ‘Soft Plastic Recycling’ initiative.

For the levy to be implemented and managed successfully it needed a solution to be put in place that would ensure that the levy could be easily collected and allocated. FINNZ worked with the ministry to create an online solution that would do exactly that, providing the tools, processes and operational framework necessary for the successful delivery of this waste levy collection. Since developing the online waste levy system (OWLS), FINNZ have also developed waste data and waste levy systems for the Queensland and NSW Governments to help them achieve their waste minimisation goals. Have a read our our case study below to find out more about the work we have done with New Zealand's Ministry of the Environment.

Case Study: Ministry for the Environment New Zealand

It great to see the Waste Minimisation Fund coming full circle and providing the funding needed for great projects like the ‘Soft Plastic Recycling’ initiative. I know I am looking forward to using the new recycling bins when they arrive in our region later this year and I can’t wait to see the positive effect they have on my households’ weekly waste levels.

If you found this article of interest, you may also like to check out our white paper which discusses managing waste data effectively and how this has immense potential for improving waste management.

 

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