The Government’s announcement to regulate product stewardship for single-use plastic packaging is broadly supported by the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.
The Packaging Forum set up soft plastics collections in 2015 and the scheme received accreditation as a voluntary product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act in March 2018.
Chair of the scheme Malcolm Everts says that the collapse of global markets for mixed plastics forced a major re-set of the scheme in 2019 and this has been further influenced by COVID-19 limiting collections and processing for a period of time.
“Our scheme is focused on supporting local processors. Two years ago, there was no onshore processing of post-consumer soft plastics. Today there are two North Island plants Future Post in Waiuku and Second Life Plastics in Levin which are great examples of Kiwi ingenuity and we are increasing every month the tonnes which we send for recycling. With the expansion of their capacity we can now offer soft plastic recycling to around 60% of the population with drop off points across Auckland, Waikato, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington. We will be adding more stores in more regions throughout the year.”
“As a voluntary scheme, we already have over 70% of industry by volume funding the recycling programme and membership has increased by 20% in the past year to 75 companies. We are also working with members on the design of their packaging, reducing creation of plastic packaging waste, and advocate using our “return to store” labelling system.”
“Scheme members’ levies fund collections from stores, quality checks, baling, transport to end markets and contribute to the processing costs as well. This is different from the traditional model where the processor pays the collector/recycler for the materials, so we are well prepared to transition to a regulated scheme model.”
“We hope to see soft plastic recycling processing projects funded in this year’s Waste Minimisation Funding Round and through the proposed $124 million investment in recycling announced by the Government earlier this month. It is only with a substantial increase in processing capacity including the South Island that the Scheme can deliver its full potential”
“We will work with the Ministry for Environment to develop a sensible co-design process to transition our voluntary product stewardship scheme to meet the new regulations over the next three years. In the meantime, it is business as usual for our scheme.”