Rubbish & recycling  |  26 Aug 2020

State-of-the-art sorting equipment will be installed at the plant that processes Christchurch’s recycling material thanks to a multi-million dollar grant from the Government.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has announced $16.8 million in funding for EcoCentral to upgrade the optical and mechanical sorting machines it uses at its Parkhouse Road Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

The MRF is where recyclable materials collected at the kerbside by several Canterbury councils, including Christchurch City, are sorted and processed.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the  funding boost will be "a game-changer for the EcoCentral and the people of Christchurch.''

EcoCentral Chief Executive Craig Downie is thrilled the company's application for funding to upgrade the equipment at the MRF has been agreed to.

“It will enable us to invest in international best-practice optical and mechanical sorting equipment, which will make it easier for us to remove contaminants from the recycling stream and deliver consistently high quality plastic and fibre products,’’ Mr Downie says.

“One of the key advantage of the upgraded equipment is that it will make it possible for us to sort plastics into individual resin types.’’

The only plastics accepted for recycling at the MRF are rigid plastic bottles and containers numbered with a 1, 2 or a 5.

EcoCentral’s application for funding from MfE was supported by Christchurch City Council.

The Council’s Resource Recovery Manager Ross Trotter is pleased that MfE has approved the funding.

“The improvements to the Materials Recovery Facility will allow EcoCentral, and us as a Council, to demonstrate our commitment to a circular economy through the production of high-quality recycling products,’’ Mr Trotter says.

“We are trying to sell our plastics and paper into crowded market places. Our local and overseas buyers are demanding product of gold-star standard or they will not buy from us.

“The new optical and mechanical sorting equipment that EcoCentral plans to invest in will help to work towards achieving the type of recyclable material that buyers require,’’ Mr Trotter says.

The $16.8 million in funding for EcoCentral is part of a $36.7 million Government investment in high-tech recycling plants nationwide that was announced today by the Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage.

“Currently New Zealand’s recycling system relies on a lot of manual sorting of materials so that they can be reprocessed. It’s not pleasant work, especially when people put rubbish in their recycling bin,'' says Ms Sage.

“Investing in high-tech optical sorters will make for safer workplaces and speed up the sorting process to separate different materials, such as paper and plastics.

“Some plastic materials are very difficult to tell apart, even for the professionals. This is where the optical sorter can in a split-second determine the different types of plastic,'' Ms Sage says.

*Pictured above, EcoCentral Chief Executive Craig Downie, Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.