Soft Plastic Recycling Returns to Dunedin thanks to local business partnerships

Malcolm Everts, Chair of the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme says: “It’s fantastic to bring soft plastic recycling back to Dunedin after a three-year hiatus. It has been a true collaborative effort involving scheme members and the local community, to put in place a collection and backhauling service from Dunedin, via Christchurch, back to Future Post in Auckland”

“Cargill will collect the bags from stores; Waste Management will bale and palletise the materials; Cottonsoft will backhaul the bales to Goodman Fielder in Christchurch who will transport the bales via their network to Auckland - a real example of teamwork”

Kim Calvert, Country Manager Cottonsoft says “As a local manufacturing business with around 30 employees and their families living in Dunedin, it’s important for us that they can recycle their soft plastic packaging. Using our existing transport provider network to move the recycled materials means we can help restart collections without adding additional vehicles to our roads.”

Michael Anderson, Head of Sustainability at Goodman Fielder comments." We're proud to be working closely with the scheme to transport the soft plastic bales back to Auckland in spare capacity on existing routes which minimises the transport carbon footprint required. Since February 2021 we have transported over 55 tonnes of soft plastic from Christchurch to be turned into posts at Future Post. To put that in perspective its equivalent to around 85 million bags or wrappers. 

Countdown's Director of Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin says their store team and customers are excited to see the return of soft plastics collection in Countdown’s Dunedin and Mosgiel stores: “It’s great to have this up and running again in Dunedin, and we will keep working hard with the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme to offer even more collection points in stores across Aotearoa in the future,” she said.

Mike Sammons, Sustainability Manager for Foodstuffs NZ says: “At Foodstuffs we understand how important it is to our customers to be able to recycle soft plastic and to reduce the amount of waste reaching landfills. Our Dunedin stores are very pleased to join forces with the dedicated collectors, transporters and processors to make this work”

David Benattar, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Warehouse Group says the expansion of the scheme in Dunedin is another important step to making it easier and more accessible for Kiwis to recycle unwanted soft plastics: 

“We are excited to be providing this recycling service to our Dunedin customers. Next time you visit The Warehouse, we’d love you to bring your soft plastics like bread bags or bubble wrap that we’ll help recycle and repurpose it into posts for vegetable gardens and fencing and avoid it going to landfill.

“We’re pleased to be working together with our industry partners to provide easy ways for Kiwis to recycle soft plastics as it’s an important step towards creating a plastic-free Aotearoa. The Warehouse South Dunedin store joins 29 of our other stores nationwide participating in this programme and through our network we’ve collected more than 15 million individual pieces of soft plastic since August 2019.”

Aaron Hawkins, Mayor of Dunedin welcomed the initiative: “It’s great to see the soft plastic recycling bins back in our stores and even better that all of the plastic is now recycled in Aotearoa and not sent off-shore. This is an excellent example of our local businesses working together to reduce our collective impact on the environment.”

The soft plastic collected in the region will be recycled at Future Post’s plant in Waiuku, South Auckland.

Jerome Wenzlick, Founder of Future Post says that the partnership with the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme benefits everyone: “Every Future Post contains 1500 bags and wrappers. So, every time Dunedin shoppers fill one of the soft plastic collection bins, that’s another post off our production line,” says Mr Wenzlick.

The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme has over 160 members representing around 78% of post-consumer soft plastic materials consumed by the food and grocery sector annually. The scheme pays for the costs of collection through to processing. This recycling service is 100% funded by industry members of the voluntary product stewardship scheme and there are close to 200 drop off points now available to three quarters of New Zealanders.

“The return of the scheme to Dunedin is a testament to the dedication of our members and our team to work through challenges and deliver industry led solutions,” says The Packaging Forum CEO Rob Langford. “It’s a real example of how industry can voluntarily collaborate and succeed in its responsibility to deal with the end-of-life recovery for packaging.”