Community & Environment

Recycling: easy as 1, 2, 5

International restrictions on importing and exporting recyclables are currently affecting nationwide council recycling services.

These restrictions mean that not all plastics that will be collected under the new service are able to be recycled.

The plastics which currently cannot be recycled are types 3, 4, 6, and 7. This means that councils around the country are now having to temporarily stockpile these plastics or send them to landfill.

Only plastics 1, 2 and 5 are able to be recycled as part of the new rubbish and recycling service that begins on Monday, 31 August. These plastic types are not affected by the restrictions because they have healthy markets and export opportunities.

From the start of the new service from 31 August, Council will collect all plastics 1-7 in the new yellow recycling wheelie bin, but will need to send plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 to landfill until another recycling solution is found or the international restrictions change for these types of plastics.

Hamilton City Council Infrastructure Operations Manager Eeva-Liisa Wright says, “This situation is one of many challenges faced by all councils nationally as a result of significant changes to the global recycling market.”

Fortunately, the items affected are just the minority of plastics collected in New Zealand, she says. “A Ministry for the Environment audit in 2019 identified that plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 only made up around 5% of household rubbish and recycling collections.”

Hamilton City Council’s City Waters Manager, Maire Porter, says while the delay in being able to recycle all plastics types under the new service is frustrating, the Council wants to be transparent and honest with the community about this issue.

“The most sustainable way forward for Hamilton is to support a change in consumer habits. So I’d encourage Hamiltonians to look for alternatives to buying products packed in, or made of, plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7.”

Ms Porter also says Hamilton’s new rubbish and recycling service will be a transformational change that will raise environmental awareness in the community.

“The new service will not only add type 5 plastics to our new recycling service; it will also allow the Council to reach its target of a 25% decrease in the per capita kerbside rubbish to landfill within four years and achieve a 50% increase in the per capita kerbside recycling within four years. Together, reaching these targets will divert more than 100,000 tonnes of anticipated waste from landfill in the next 10 years.”

“With organic food scraps currently accounting for almost 50% of Hamilton residents’ landfill waste by weight, the new food scraps bin will also help significantly reduce the amount of waste the city sends to landfill,” adds Ms Porter.

“Recycling is very important, but our priority should be to reduce our waste as much as we can.”

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