Community & Environment

‘Plastic Free July’: a chance for Hamiltonians to make a difference

July 1 marks the start of ‘Plastic Free July’ worldwide, and Hamilton City Council is keen to encourage local businesses and the community to get on board by changing what they’re doing in relation to non-recyclable plastics.

The big break-up

Worldwide, about 50 per cent of plastics produced today is single-use plastic packaging. Of these, the most commonly found single-use items in the environment are cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers.*

“The problem with single-use plastics is that they don’t break down in the environment,” says Kirsty Quickfall, Hamilton City Council’s Resource Recovery Advisor.

“Instead, they break up into lots of little pieces known as microplastics, which then end up in our waterways, oceans and ultimately in our food chain.”

“Turning this around doesn’t need to be complicated,” says Ms Quickfall. “Anyone can make a big difference through small changes in the fight to reduce our plastics use.

There are so many alternatives out there to swap out with single-use plastics; and they’re so easy to use.”

Swap and drop

Some simple swaps include:
• Take away coffee cup = reusable coffee cup.
• Plastic bags = reusable shopping bag.
• Straws = say no thank you or use a metal straw.
• Bottled water = reusable water bottle.
• Wipes = cloth flannels.
• Plastic containers =reusable glass or tin containers.
• Supermarket packaging = take your own container and buy ‘bulk bin’ products.
• Plastic wrap = reusable beeswax wraps.
• Takeaway containers = repurpose them to store leftovers, take lunches to school or work.

Walking the talk

Ms Quickfall adds that the Council is also committed to leading by example when it comes to waste minimisation.

“That’s why we have our Waste Plan. It sets out goals, objectives and targets to guide the Council towards waste avoidance, reduction and recovery. That’s not just in relation to our businesses and the community: it’s also something we ensure happens within Council operations and premises as well.”

New collection service

With the Council’s new Rubbish and Recycling Service kicking in on August 31, Ms Quickfall says it’s also timely to start thinking now about how to minimise the use of, or reuse, of plastics which can’t be recycled.

“It would be great to see our businesses and community make even one change each to their approach to single-use plastics. Every individual effort really does add up.”

Find out more about Hamilton City Council’s new Rubbish and Recycling Services at https://fightthelandfill.co.nz/

Reduce and win

Plastic Free July is a worldwide event which also offers an annual challenge. To enter the challenge, people sign up and pledge to make a change with at least one single-use plastic. For details, visit https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/

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