Business funding recycling – and putting the consumer first

Business funding recycling – and putting the consumer first

As a voluntary product stewardship scheme, the Scheme’s 190 members pay for soft plastic to be collected, baled, and recycled into fence posts, garden beds and sustainable
building materials.

Awareness of soft plastics increased 19% with more than double the volume collected and more bins in more regions. The next phase of growth is critical, so the Scheme commissioned recycling research company Nextek to consider options for soft plastic packaging over the next 5-10 years.

Nextek reviewed the process from soft plastic collection systems, local processing networks to mechanical recycling options, and advanced recycling options.

Lyn Mayes, Scheme Manager says Nextek provides excellent insights and recommendations, many of which aligned with the scheme’s view that we should be considering kerbside collections and investing in local infrastructure and technology.

“We were pleased to see recommendations to maximise post-consumer soft plastic collections via kerbside collections, as this is something we have been looking at closely in other countries. This could be a simple system that would keep the soft plastic separate from other materials in the recycling bin,” says Mayes.

“This requires investment in collection, sortation or processing systems. Our scheme is viewed overseas as one of the best because we are processing everything in New Zealand. However, we need multiple processes and so we are funding research with Plastoil, which could see a small-scale pyrolysis unit turn plastic into oil, which could be remanufactured into plastic packaging.”

“Investing in local solutions is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint. We already do this by not exporting our waste recycling our soft plastic into posts in Auckland and soon Marlborough, but we want to look at how we can take this further through new technology,
which is an exciting space,” says Mayes.

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