Acceptance of plastics set to change alongside opening of expanded recycling station

Over the last year the global waste market has been undergoing significant changes, Upper Hutt City Council is making the change to collect only plastic types 1 and 2 at our Park Street Recycling Station.

Avid readers of recycling news may have noticed there has been a drastic change in the global market for recycling, meaning fewer types of plastics are being collected, causing increased confusion about what, and how, to recycle.

Last week, Hutt City Council announced it will only be collecting plastic types 1 and 2 in its kerbside collection in light of the global context. Council’s contractor, Waste Management, will also be implementing the same restrictions to their private recycling customers in Upper Hutt shortly.

Globally

Recycling is market based. Over the last year the global waste market has been undergoing significant changes, particularly the plastics market, following China’s nationally implemented ‘National Sword’ program introducing new strict standards for various recyclables. This resulted in a global drop in value for certain materials and the banning or restricting on imports of plastic types 3 – 7.

With little to no demand for most plastic types 3 – 7, these plastics are currently being sorted out during processing and sent landfill in New Zealand or shipped abroad where there is an unclear chain of custody over the materials.

Locally

Upper Hutt is making the change to collect only plastic types 1 and 2 at our Park Street Recycling Station. By doing so, we are ensuring that what we are only collecting what can, and will, be recycled. Private kerbside collection provider, Waste Management, will follow suit with its customers.

Locally there is demand for plastic types 1, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and 2, high-density polyethylene, (HDPE). PET 1 is often used for water, soft drink and condiment bottles and can be recycled by Flight Plastics in Lower Hutt. HDPE 2, typically used for milk, shampoo, and cleaning product bottles, can be recycled by Budget Plastics in Palmerston North.

Individually

Recyclable plastics have a small triangle recycling logo with either the number 1 or 2 inside it, which the upgraded Park Street recycling station will accept. If not, or if in doubt, items should not be put in the recycling stream, but sent to landfill instead. This will reduce contamination of the recyclables collected and will ensure that Upper Hutt’s collective recycling efforts are not compromised.

To further reduce contamination, plastics should be washed and squashed, with the lids kept on. Likewise, cardboard should be clean of any contamination from food and flattened, and tins and cans should be squashed, with the lid pushed inside where possible. Recyclables should not be deposited in the station in plastic bags.

With the expanded recycling station set to open soon, Council will continue to provide information and guidance on best practice for waste minimisation and the recycling of types 1 and 2 plastics.

Upper Hutt City Council will be working together with Hutt City Council to educate residents about these changes to recycling throughout the Hutt Valley.

Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer Millie Porter hopes that this change will encourage residents to re-think and see the power in their consumption habits. “Our focus should be on waste minimisation. We should all try to reduce and reuse before we look to recycling as an option to divert waste from landfill.”

This change should also encourage residents to think about firstly reducing and reusing before recycling.