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Recycling collection changes from May

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Plastic graded 3 to 7 will no longer be collected by Napier City Council’s kerbside recycling contractor from next month.

At an extraordinary Council meeting on Monday 1 April, NCC confirmed that only plastics stamped with the number 1 or 2 will be picked up in Napier’s collection, from a date yet to be determined, next month. These types of containers include soft drink, sports drink and milk bottles, some cleaning product containers, and condiment/food jars and represent about half of all plastic recyclables.

A public awareness campaign clarifying the changes, as well as confirming the actual date when the new rules will apply, will begin shortly.

Napier residents need to be aware that from this date recycling placed in plastic bags will be rejected, as the bags themselves cannot be recycled, and present issues with the new sorting rules.

As with Hastings District Council’s decision last week to drop the collection of grades 3-7, the decision is due in part to countries such as China deciding last year to stop taking recycling from New Zealand. Approximately 50% of the world’s waste plastic went to China, much of it highly contaminated or unsuitable for recycling, which resulted in a rubbish disposal problem and associated environmental impact.

NCC's Jon Kingsford: “We don’t want the landfill to fill up unnecessarily with plastics, but neither do we want our contractor to be put in the position of having to store these unwanted items. The best option therefore is to collect and recycle only the plastics that have a market.” 

Also, for the past year local contractors have had to stockpile plastic as shipments of mixed grades 1-7 have been unpredictable. There is no guarantee that the less valuable plastics will be recycled when they have been exported.

It is likely the change to kerbside recycling collection will result in extra rubbish bags, and a higher cost of collection and disposal across both cities.

“We don’t want the landfill to fill up unnecessarily with plastics, but neither do we want our contractor to be put in the position of having to store these unwanted items. The best option therefore is to collect and recycle only the plastics that have a market,” says Jon Kingsford, Director Infrastructure Services.

The Napier and Hastings Councils share the Waste Minimisation and Management Plan (WMMP) 2018-24 and one of its major aims is to reduce the amount of waste going to the jointly owned Omarunui landfill, to extend its life.

While this may seem to contradict the WMMP aim, Mr Kingsford says it is better to responsibly landfill the cities’ waste here, rather than making it another country’s problem.

Currently there is no national strategy around recycling standards and Councils across NZ are managing recycling differently.

NCC’s suggestion to residents is to think carefully about what products they buy, and whether the packaging is reusable or recyclable.

3 April 2019

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