Christchurch City Council is urging people to get into the habit of using re-usable shopping bags because it can no longer divert plastic bags from the landfill by recycling them.
“We know people want to do their bit to help the environment by recycling as much as possible but unfortunately we’re no longer in a position where we can accept supermarket bags or other plastic bags as part of our kerbside recycling collection,’’ says Council Solid Waste Manager Ross Trotter.
“Tetra paks cartons are another item that we are no longer able to accept in the yellow wheelie bins. That is because the lining that allows them to hold liquid is unable to be recycled in the same way other cardboard products are.
“From now on supermarket shopping bags and tetra pak cartons will need to go in the red bin rather than the yellow bin.’’
Mr Trotter says the tightening of the global recycling market and the growing number of compostable and biodegradable bags in use are driving the changes.
“Compostable and biodegradable bags are unfortunately very difficult to distinguish from plastic bags but if they get mixed in with plastic they contaminate the product. The markets we send our plastics to only want good quality plastics and the best way we can ensure that is by eliminating bags from the recycling stream,’’ Mr Trotter says.
“The Government’s plan to phase out single-use plastic bags should help to reduce the amount of soft plastics in our waste stream, but we need people to start changing their behaviour now so that in the meantime we can minimise the amount of plastic we send to the landfill.’’
Mr Trotter is also reminding people that bags or packaging that is marketed as compostable or bio-degradable cannot go into green wheelie bin.
“Unfortunately the majority of compostable bags that are available on the market are made from genetically modified corn-starch which is not compostable at our processing plant because it doesn’t break-down within the three month processing timeframe.
“Rather than using a compostable bag to wrap up your organic waste, think about using newspaper instead. Or put the waste within soiled cardboard, such as a pizza box. The carbon which is produced from the decomposition of the newspaper or cardboard will help with the composting process,’’ Mr Trotter says.
You can also come along to the EcoSort open day at 21 Parkhouse Road between 9am and midday on Saturday 8 December to find out what happens to the contents of your yellow bin.