Environment Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith, has formally launched the new soft plastic packaging recycling initiative. Many industry members, including representatives from Countdown and The Warehouse, attended the event at Mount Roskill’s New World supermarket.
For the first time in New Zealand, shoppers will be able to bring back all soft plastic packaging, including carrier bags, and deposit them in the special bins provided at the store. The packaging will then be sorted, compressed and sent to Replas in Australia for recycling into outdoor furniture products. At present there are very few kerbside recycling collection schemes in New Zealand that will accept soft plastics.
The Auckland initiative, managed by the Packaging Forum and supported by the government is expected to expand through 2016 to cover all metropolitan areas in New Zealand, with the objective to provide access to recycle soft plastics to approximately 70% of the population.
Steve Anderson, Managing Director, Foodstuffs New Zealand Ltd says, “With the majority of local councils not accepting soft plastics as part of their kerbside pickup, this material typically ends up in landfill or littering the environment, potentially harming wildlife.”
This new project will take all soft plastic bags including bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wrap, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, shopping bags, sanitary hygiene packaging – basically anything made of plastic which can be scrunched into a ball.
“Plastic bags of all shapes and sizes are often the default packaging choice in today’s retail environment, as they are resource efficient, space efficient, functionally efficient and cost efficient,” says Anderson. “Accepting that in some way, shape or form, they will be with us for the foreseeable future, Foodstuffs recognises that we have a responsibility to ensure that we do not waste them by using them once and then consigning them to landfill.”
Anderson confirms that the initiative is being rolled out across 36 New World and PAK’nSAVE stores in the Auckland area and represents a great example of both, innovation and collaboration.
Sustainability is an area of high focus for Foodstuffs Anderson says, “What we are increasingly learning is that sustainability is just good business and that with a little innovation and a lot of hard work the solution is never too far away.”
The Foodstuffs team said they are proud to partner with The Packaging Forum, REDGroup, The Abilities Group, The Warehouse and the many other suppliers and manufacturing brands who have generously supported the initiative.