Plastic waste ends up on Canterbury farms

A new way to deal with a tough waste problem has been pioneered by NZ Post, Future Posts and the Packaging Forum.

The three teamed up to turn soft plastic into fence posts.

The three-month pilot project offers Kiwis the option of a courier pick-up service for their discarded soft plastics.

It costs a $7 soft plastic recycling mail bag, which covers the cost of mail pickup and is big enough for about three weeks worth of soft plastics for an average family.

Dawn Baggaley, NZ Post Group Sustainability Manager, says all people have to do is buy a mail bag, fill it with clean soft plastics such as bread bags, food bags frozen food, toilet paper wrappers, or anything plastic that can be crumpled into a ball.

Then book a courier for collection or drop off the bag at the local NZ Post store.

Soft plastics are recycled and made into fence posts by Future Post at its Waiuku-based company.

Diana Jamieson, national sales manager for Future Post, who lives in North Canterbury, says it’s exciting to have three local Rangiora stores – Countdown, New World and The Warehouse – taking part in recycling soft plastics after a break from three years.

But adding the courier bag system for those who couldn’t make it to these participating stores would make recycling soft plastics much more efficient and accessible.

Kilmarnock Enterprises collects, bales and palletizes plastics to send to Auckland.

It is then made into poles for farms, vineyards and gardens by Future Post, which is expanding its Waiuku operation due to high demand.

He is keen to return Rangiora’s soft plastic waste to the area in the form of fence posts.

Diana says the company will divert 500 tonnes of soft plastic from landfill per month, and “the plastic isn’t that heavy”.

A 1.8m Future Post is equivalent to 320 milk bottles and 1,200 pieces of flexible plastic.

“That’s probably more milk than we would drink, or bread that we could individually eat in a year,” she says.

The posts won’t rot or wash out, last up to 50+ years and can be recycled again “if need be”.

New Zealand Post will work with key partners including The Warehouse Group and Foodstuffs to make the prepaid soft plastic recycling bags widely available.

Warehouse Group sustainability director David Benattar said the new service is a step towards providing all Kiwis with access to convenient recycling solutions.

“We strive to make recycling as easy as possible for our customers.”

Prepaid courier bags can be picked up at The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery stores nationwide or online, as well as TheMarket.com.

They can take them home to the office and fill them with soft plastics. “NZ Post will do the rest.”

Bryce K. Locke