Why are changes being made to recycling?
Recently there have been changes to the global recycling market with other countries no longer taking plastics for recycling. This is consistent with other councils around New Zealand who are reviewing plastic recycling and have already made similar changes.
There is still a demand for plastics classified as 1 and 2. Plastics classified as 1 and 2 are:
- Clear Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET 1), and
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE 2).
PET 1 is used for soft drink, water and juice bottles. It is is recycled by Lower Hutt’s Flight Plastics and used for its products such as kiwifruit trays.
Plastic milk bottles and detergent containers which are classified as HDPE 2 are sent to Palmerston North where they’re turned into pallets, ending up as wheelie bins and other products.
What changes are being made?
There are two key changes - plastics collected at the kerbside and plastic bins at recycling stations.
Changes to kerbside recycling
Some types of plastics will no longer be accepted. We are encouraging people not to put these products in their recycling bin:
- Type 3: products such as certain types of biscuit trays and clear food wraps and packaging, blister packs and toys
- Type 4: Bread and produce bags, and other soft plastics
- Type 5: Containers for yoghurt, soft cheese, deli foods and take away meals
- Type 6: Disposable Styrofoam cups and plates, some meat trays and take away containers
- Type 7: Other plastics, or layered materials such as Tetra Pak, milk and juice cartons, foil laminated or coated packaging.
If people put these plastic products in their recycling bin during the change-over period they will still be taken away to the sorting facility in Lower Hutt, but will be sent to landfill.
Where does my recycling go?
Recycling (that is not contaminated with food residue etc) collected at the kerbside is sent to the following once processed by OJI in Seaview:
- Glass: to O-I NZ in Auckland, where it is further sorted for colour, and re-processed into new glass bottles and jars, for more detail go to recycleglass.co.nz/commercial.
- Cans: to metal recyclers Macaulay Metals in Seaview
- Paper & cardboard: goes to OJI Fibre, which then identifies markets for the product, see https://www.ojifs.com/fullcircle-faqs/
- Clear PET #1: goes to Flights Plastics in Lower Hutt.
- Naturally coloured HDPE (#2) such as “clear” milk bottles and detergent containers: to Palmerston North where it is washed and turned into re-processed pellets. The raw material is then turned into items such as wheelie bins.
OJI is currently relying on mechanical processes, and people hand-sorting products on conveyor belts. Officers have been working with OJI since early 2019 on the addition of an optical sorter, in order to increase the plant’s capability (eg identifying with certainty whether a meat tray or biscuit tray is indeed #1). OJI were successful in gaining funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund, and are aiming to have an optical sorter in place before the end of this year.
Changes at recycling stations
Contaminated recycling at recycling stations across Lower Hutt is escalating and is not viewed as sustainable by Waste Management NZ or council.
The plastic recycling bins are affected worst by contamination. As a result, the plastic recycling bins which also take aluminium and tin products have been removed from the recycling stations.
Plastics 1 and 2, and aluminium and tin products can continue to be put in your kerbside recycling.
Can I still recycle?
Yes. We encourage all Lower Hutt residents to recycle. Get involved in our new 'Let’s sort out waste' campaign so that we can all work together to minimise waste and contribute to an effective recycling system.
Examples of products that can be put in your recycling bin at the kerbside are:
- Glass bottles and jars
- Metal and aluminium cans
- Paper and cardboard
- Plastics type 1 - soft drink, water and juice bottles
- Plastics type 2 - Milk bottles, some juice containers and cleaning product bottles
What happens if people still put 3-7 in their recycling bin?
During the phase in of the change plastics 3 to 7 will be taken away but will go to landfill as it is too difficult for collectors to sort through recycling bins. It is best if everyone does not put these products in their kerbside bin. If people continue to put these products in their recycling bins the bins will not be emptied. This is the same situation if contaminated goods are put into bins.
So what do I do with my plastics 3-7?
It goes into the general rubbish, but our focus will be on reducing the amount of this we use over time.
We are still looking for another recycling option for this plastic. These plastics only make up around 4% of our recycling, so shouldn't add much to your rubbish.
When will I receive information on better ways to recycle?
Guidance will continue to be provided to residents on recycling.
Council will be launching a 'Let’s sort out waste' campaign to advise people about these changes, and to let residents and businesses know how to minimise waste and contribute to an effective recycling system.
What are you doing about waste?
We want to reduce waste in our community and lessen the impact on our environment.
One of the current challenges for all of us is to work with businesses and the community to look for alternatives to plastics 3 to 7, and to avoid unnecessary packaging material.
We are also undertaking strategic reviews into our waste system. This includes how we collect recyclables at the kerbside.
What is the status of the waste review and how does this link to the recycling changes?
Hutt City Council has been working on a strategic review of three key waste management areas: residential hazardous waste, resource recovery for reusable items like furniture and kerbside collection. The review is a result of key actions that Hutt City Council committed to under the city’s Waste Minimisation and Management Plan 2017 to 2023.
While further work on the benefits and costs of the different kerbside options is being carried out over the next few months we provide the following update below. The outcomes of our work will be put out to the community for consideration in early 2020 as part of the annual plan process. Subject to community consultation, any changes to services like kerbside recycling are expected to be implemented in late 2020 or early 2021.
Strategic Waste Review update as at 24 May 2019
The review work to date has focused on whether current services are fit for purpose, and if not, what the alternatives are. The aim is to provide the most cost effective, safe, environmentally sound and appropriate service for Lower Hutt. The approaches taken by other councils around New Zealand are also being considered.
Expert waste management consultants Morrison Low were engaged by the Council to assist with the review. Treasury’s Better Business Case model was followed in determining the options for future waste management.
In terms of residential hazardous waste, there are two main options - continuing with an annual hazardous waste collection day, or moving to a staffed permanent drop-off point at Silverstream landfill.
There are three options for resource recovery: retaining the status quo of having a drop off facility at Silverstream landfill, an enhanced drop-off facility at Silverstream landfill, or a new site at an alternative location.
In terms of kerbside recycling, there are two main options - continuing with the small green crates, or changing to a two-stream recycling system using a wheelie bin for mixed recyclables, and a crate for glass only.
For refuse collection from the kerbside options are retaining the current council-run bag collection service; and changing to a system using wheelie bins. This could include a rates-funded wheelie bin collection, residents only using a range of private collection services available, or a “pay as you throw” bin model, where residents have wheelie bins but they only pay for bin collection when needed.
Updated: 24 May 2019