Recycling milestone as plastic bags go green

Pak 'n Save owner Mark Elkington with their new soft plastics recycling bin.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Pak 'n Save owner Mark Elkington with their new soft plastics recycling bin.

A recycling revolution is set to see plastic bags get a new lease of life across the region.

Shoppers across Marlborough will now be able to take used soft plastic bags back to supermarkets for recycling.

The move follows a bid by retail stores across the South Island to reduce the impact the bags have on the environment.

In 2016, Kiwis dropped off over 100 tonnes of soft plastic bags for recycling which equals 25 million bags.

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The Packaging Forum revealed the initiative on Friday as they announced the expansion of the Love NZ soft packaging recycling programme.

Carrier bags, fresh produce, bakery bags and frozen food bags can now be recycled in store.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Carrier bags, fresh produce, bakery bags and frozen food bags can now be recycled in store.

Project manager Lyn Mayes says the industry-led project will now reach 70 per cent of New Zealanders.

"Thanks to the support of our retail partners, we're excited to have the programme now offered through a large number of retailers throughout the South Island.

"Uniquely, our retail partners will be using their own distribution networks to transport the collected materials back to Christchurch," she says.

Carrier bags, fresh produce, bakery bags and frozen food bags can now be recycled in store.

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The plastic bags used to wrap the Marlborough Express, Marlborough Midweek and Saturday Express to protect them from the elements will also be able to be recycled.

Marlborough regional editor for Fairfax Media Nicola Coburn says the initiative is "very welcome".

"While it was important to us and our readers that we protected the papers in plastic, it was a concern when it came to recycling and one we were looking at addressing.

"This is a great outcome for the whole community as soft plastics can now be disposed of sustainable while out doing the weekly shop," she says.

Countdown, New World and Pak 'n Save will have bins in place from this month where soft plastics can be dropped off.

Plastic bags do not decompose or biodegrade because the micro-organisms that are part of the process are not able to use the plastic as food.  Storage and shipping costs often outweighed the value of recycling them.

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil says a recent council survey revealed most people would prefer to use plastic bags that could be recycled.

"It is possible that as a result of this we will see less plastics bags through. The population identified this as a cause for concern and we are happy to promote it," he says

 - The Marlborough Express

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