Plastic-free July is a great annual reminder for producers and consumers to think about the plastic which they are using and how it can be recycled.
In 2020 the Food & Grocery Council commissioned Dynata to conduct a survey of its members to identify how much plastic by resin type is consumed annually. The 2021 survey supported by The Packaging Forum shows that consumption of hard to recycle polymers PVC and Polystyrene has reduced to less than 3.5 percent and that clear plastic represents 61 percent of the sector’s plastic consumption compared to 46 percent in 2020.
The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme specifies materials that can be recycled through the Scheme. This has encouraged brands to change the composition of their soft plastic bags and pouches to meet these thresholds. For example, the Scheme does not accept any packaging containing PVC or PVDC.
More than one in four of Scheme members now use the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), which is validated through APCO’s Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP). The ARL removes confusion for consumers and optimises end markets for packaging.
In a survey conducted on behalf of The Packaging Forum by Horizon Research in March 2022, 69 percent of New Zealanders said that they check the label on packaging most or all of the time before recycling and, encouragingly, 52 percent of people already recognise the ARL in New Zealand.
The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme has always enjoyed low levels of contamination because people make a real effort to collect and store clean and empty bags before dropping them off. The ARL and use of the recycle at store logo underpins this work.
Last year even with the service disruptions caused by Covid-19 lockdowns, The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme collected 331 tonnes of post-consumer soft plastics, which were recycled into around 34,000 Future Post fences – enough to fence 170km of farmland, or the driving distance between Auckland’s CBD and Whangarei.
In 2022 The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is targeting over 800 tonnes, so this Plastic Free July make sure you drop off your soft plastic for recycling. There are now over 200 participating stores, including the first drop-off locations in Thames and expansion across Tauranga, and if people cannot get to a store, they now offer a courier back service in partnership with NZ Post and The Warehouse.