The soft plastics Paeroa residents can now drop into Countdown will go on to become recycled fence posts to be used on farms and vineyards.
The supermarket has partnered with Paeroa rural business AgriSea for its Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.
It will involve AgriSea, a business that supplies products made from New Zealand seaweed to the dairy, horticulture, apiculture and viticulture industries, collecting the soft plastics and transporting them to Future Post, a company that turns domestic and commercial plastic waste into fencing products.
“I contacted [scheme manager] Lyn [Mayes], to understand the opportunity for recycling, which then led me to sort and collect our own families’ soft plastics, and the amount of plastic waste was quite a surprise,” AgriSea managing director Tane Bradley said.
“By separating soft plastics into another box, it reduced my council bin waste by a large amount.”
Countdown Paeroa store manager Alice Davidson “jumped at the offer” to see the return of the soft plastics bin.
“We are really excited to be bringing [the scheme] to Paeroa and giving our customers a way to recycle packaging that might otherwise end up in landfill,” she said.
“I know locals will be really pleased to see the return of the bin in our store and it’s great to be able to work with a local company like Agrisea to help us do that.”
This latest expansion will mean there will be more than 165 locations offering a drop-off service for soft plastic bags and wrappers throughout the country, although collections were currently on hold in Auckland until alert level 3 restrictions eased, she said.
Future Post was founded by Jerome Wenzlick, who attempted to build a fence on an old rubbish dump site.
He found his wooden fence posts were breaking as he tried ramming them through all the waste plastic in the ground, and had the revelation that if he could build a stronger fencepost from waste plastic, he’d also help solve a bigger environmental problem.
Mr Bradley acknowledged creating better recycling habits was a “journey of constant improvement” – from reducing single plastic use, to finding alternatives such as bioplastics, made from natural renewable sources.
“However plastic is currently part of our lives – and the ability to turn this into something useful is a great thing,” he said.
“We are 100 per cent behind this programme and look forward to supporting our community.”
DETAILS: The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is a voluntary product stewardship scheme operated by The Packaging Forum.
Soft Plastics Recycling has been operating since 2015 and is 100 per cent funded by its industry members to capture soft plastic packaging for recycling into new products.
Anything made of soft plastic which can be scrunched into a ball, such as bread bags, toilet paper packaging and squeeze pouches, will be accepted – but it must be clean, empty and dry.
More info can be found online at: www.packagingforum.org.nz.