Northland Waste suspending the kerbside collection of 3-7 plastics reminds us how unsustainable it is to wrap food in something that lasts forever. However, the suspension of the recycling of janitorial plastics highlights the problems with having a monopoly of commercial waste companies in control of recycling in NZ. While light low grade plastics will never have value, the hard thick plastics used in janitorial products are recyclable, and will be recycled once systems are set up in NZ.
We can’t continue to send our waste to developing countries, unsorted low grade mixed recycling will never be sorted there. Waste companies have known for five years that China were changing their systems and will only accept quality product. They should have prepared by investing in processing plants. It’s time for manufactures and recycling providers to step up, sort out our systems, and process our waste onshore…100% pure!
Presently all plastics 1-6 are still being accepted at the transfer stations, and will continue to be accepted but only at transfer stations until the FNDC has made a decision on whether or not to let them out of their contractual obligations. Numbers 1-2 only will be collected at the kerbside from 5th November 2018.
If they are going to allow Northland Waste to dump their stockpiles of recycling, (which are becoming a fire hazard, and have no market to sell to) then where will they be going? Please write to FNDC or your local representative to let them know you do not what enormous quantities of loose light plastic dumped in the old, inadequate landfill in Ahipara. The landfill is supposed to be closed as of today, please remind the council why we want it closed, and why we don’t want plastic on our beaches, which will be inevitable if the stockpiles of plastic waste are allowed to be dumped in the Ahipara landfill.
Northland Waste owns the modern landfill in Puwera, and should be allowed to send the stockpiled unsaleable 3-7 plastics there, but hold on to janitorial product while they find a market. Meanwhile, REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE is the way forward for consumers; we have Whānau Meats and Bells that allow customers to bring their own containers, we can bring our own produce bags to shop, we can refill eco store products at CBEC, and grow our own food!!
by Jo Shanks
The EcoCentre contacted Northland Waste for their response to the situation:
Thanks for your email. Sorry for the latest in responding to this.
Please find attached [incorportated below] some information which outlines our position on plastic recycling. This information has been shared with our private customers.
Unfortunately due to international events there is limited demand for plastic grades 3 – 7. Our recycling adviser cannot and will not take plastic grades 3 – 7.
We did not consider it environmentally sound to mix plastic grades 1 – 7 and state we are “recycling” when processors cannot guarantee the material is being recycled. The carbon footprint to undertake this process is counterproductive to the objectives of recycling.
It is internationally recognised that there are significant issues with recycling plastic grades 3 – 7. We recommend consumers reduce their own use of plastic grades 3 – 7 where possible. This in turn will help send a message to manufactures to produce products that can be recycled/upcycled and eventually close the loop on plastic grades 3 – 7.
In terms of transfer stations services – what material is accepted and collected is the decision of FNDC. At this stage we have been instructed to continue accepting plastics 1 – 7.
We hope the attached document [see below] answers some of your questions. We are not trying to hide any information whatsoever, our approach is to front the issue and be open with the public.
Regards, Andrew Sclater
Changes to the type of plastics collected from your recycling crate, wheelie bin and/or fadge
As you may be aware, China announced its ‘National Sword’ program earlier this year which has significantly reduced their imports of recycling product. This has forced many operators to explore further options.
It has been highlighted in the media that many recyclers have been stockpiling material due to cross contamination. Fortunately for Northland Recycling we have managed to avoid this problem due to source separated collection systems. Our only problematic area at this stage is recyclable plastics numbered 3 – 7.
We have been advised by our recycling processor that:
1. Plastic numbers 3 – 7 and some plastic number 2’s will be rejected; and
2. No guarantee that this material will not be landfilled in overseas jurisdictions.
Other waste companies have elected to export all plastic types 1 – 7 in mixed export loads to Asian countries. In some instances, this material has been sorted overseas to remove the 1 and 2 plastic types with the balance of material (numbers 3 – 7) landfilled, often in substandard facilities. Where this occurs, the impact of recycling mixed plastics 1 – 7 dramatically increases the carbon footprint with material being baled, moved on vehicles to New Zealand trading ports, shipped overseas, removed from vehicles in overseas ports to “processing facilities” and then the residual material landfilled. The net effect on the environment is far worse than deciding to dispose this material domestically.
Northland Recycling is not prepared to put its reputation on the line that this material is being recycled without an absolute assurance that this material will not be landfilled overseas. At this point in time we have been provided no guarantee that plastic numbers 3 – 7 are being appropriately recycled offshore.
Until such time as we can be assured that we have a sustainable option going forward our position is to stop the collection of plastic numbers 3 – 7 in your recycling crate, wheelie bin and/or fadge.
What plastic will be accepted:
From 5 November 2018, Northland Recycling will only collect plastic numbers 1 and 2. The following items will be accepted in your recycling crate, wheelie bin and/or fadge:
1. Recycling processors are rejecting coloured janitorial bottles (plastic number 2). Coloured janitorial bottles should not be placed in your recycling crate wheelie bin and/or fadge.
2. Any plastic material that does not contain a number 1 or 2 or is contaminated will be left inside your recycling crate, wheelie bin and/or fadge.
3. Rinse all containers thoroughly with water before placing in your recycling crate, wheelie bin and/or fadge.
Northland Recycling will continue to look for sustainable solutions for the 3 – 7 plastic range going forward and we are also aware that the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment may look to subsidise some on-shore processing facilities for these material types.
If you have any queries on this or any other issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
0800 499 246