Plastic bag recycling gets a start in Queenstown and Wanaka

Monday, Mar 20, 2017

Plastic bags in the Queenstown and Wanaka have traditionally been sent to landfill. Now they can be turned into furniture.Supermarkets throughout the district are providing recycling bins for the bags, including bread bags, frozen and chilled food bags, packaging and wrapping.

They are packaged up and sent to Melbourne company Replas, which turns the bags into bollards, traffic speed humps, decking and tracking and furniture.Mayor Jim Boult was presented with a park bench made of 16,000 plastic bags at the official opening of the scheme.

With its large visitor population the Queenstown Lakes district faced significant challenges around disposing of waste, he said.Any programme that made it easier to recycle should be applauded.

"We send far too much of our waste out to our landfill. Our council is determined that this term we should do something about it."It was anticipated the new recycling system would reduce the amount going to landfill by about 13 tonnes, or 3.25 million bags annually.

The Packaging Forum project manager Lyn Mayes said the nationwide project started in Auckland in 2015 and since then over 150 tonnes of soft package plastic had been collected, or about 40 million individual plastic bags

The Queenstown Lakes had come forward on the list after the council and members of the public had urged the organisation to set up."We would have got tyo Queenstown but it was sooner because the people here wanted it."

Bread bags accounted for about 20 per cent of those dropped off, the largest number. About 10 per cent were frozen food bags and another 10 per cent were plastic wrapping around toilet rolls, she said.

The Government had provided $700,000 of funding for the first three years and industry had since matched that. The goal was to be self-sustaining."Ideally we want to create sufficient demand for these products to create a plant in New Zealand."

The organisation's goal was to make soft plastic packaging recycling available to 70 per cent of New Zealands. It was now about 60 per cent. The next city to be included would be Dunedin.