Some supermarkets have stopped collecting customers’ soft plastic recycling, and shoppers are reporting piles of plastic being left in stores where bins used to be.
Due to high volume, The Packaging Forum has changed how the plastic is collected and some Foodstuffs stores have said goodbye to their recycling bins altogether.
But Countdown general manager for corporate affairs and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said that meant less money was going towards operating the scheme.
“Pulling out of the scheme, even if only one or two stores, does not help the overall situation.”
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Foodstuffs did not respond to say why Silverdale and other stores had stopped recycling, but Hannifin said Countdown stores had remained in the scheme.
“We all have an ongoing responsibility to own the plastic waste problem in NZ.”
Almost everything bought in a supermarket had some form of packaging, so they made sense as a collection point, she said.
Hannifin said the bins would still be relevant even when single-use bags were totally banned next year.
Customers often brought in a separate bag from home to recycle their chip packets, lolly wrappers, and soft packaging at a grocery store, so plastic bags account for a fraction of all the plastic put in the bins at 9.5 per cent.
The Packaging Forum spokeswoman Lyn Mayes said six stores had withdrawn from the programme out of 380.
However, they were well over capacity anyway.
“If stores drop off the programme it helps reduce the volume which helps us short term.”
Mayes said they changed the logistics for some stores collecting high volumes of plastic to reduce the cost of collection.
Some stores were collecting 40 or more bin liners of soft plastic every week, she said.
Now, they were baling the plastic at stores to reduce the storage area at the store and reduce the collection cost.
“Stores which collect a high volume from customers pay a volume fee which will mean the costs vary by store.”
About 400 tonnes of the plastic is sitting in storage after Australian manufacturer Replas stopped accepting it.
A new manufacturer Future Post said it would turn the plastic in to fence posts, but only a part of the massive plastic stockpile was being released to them.
Mayes said Future Post was already able to double its processing capacity.
They were talking to other processors, and were also hopeful that Replas Australia would start taking the country’s soft plastics again.
She was not able to provide details of the supermarkets which had pulled out.