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Ask Phoebe: Options are limited for recycling plastic bags

By Phoebe Falconer

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City bins for reusables not the place for grocery or bread holders.

A number of people suggest using the bags as kitchen bin liners, for picking up after your dog, or for similar uses. Photo / Joel Ford
A number of people suggest using the bags as kitchen bin liners, for picking up after your dog, or for similar uses. Photo / Joel Ford

Where are we supposed to recycle plastic bags, such as supermarket shopping bags and bread bags? The Grey Lynn Countdown supermarket used to have a plastic recycling station but it disappeared with their last refit, and a worker there told me the bags were shipped to China, where they were often burnt anyway. I always try to avoid plastic bags but it's inevitable you end up with some and fairly soon it's a massive pile. Help! Richard Wain, Grey Lynn.

This is a knotty one. The Auckland City website advises that plastic bags are not permitted in recycling bins, as they can clog the machines at the recycling facility and cause machinery failures. Fair enough. Don't put individual empty plastic bags in the bin, or even great clumps of them.

But even after thorough searches of websites, I can find nothing that suggests you may not put plastic bags in your rubbish (either bag or red-top bin, depending on your area) if they contain items that are acceptable in that type of bin or bag.

A number of people suggest using the bags as kitchen bin liners, for picking up after your dog, or for similar uses, before putting the bags out for your normal collection.

They can also be used as packaging for delicate items to be posted, or donated to charity shops, or given to local preschools, which apparently go through heaps.

And some supermarkets do still have bins for unwanted bags, as do some Warehouse stores.

I wonder if you could tell me where I could get a detailed map of the Coast-to-Coast Auckland walk. Surely there is one available. I wrote some time ago to the Information Centre but nothing was forthcoming. I would like to have one before I attempt the walk. Helen Livesey, Te Puke.

I hope I'm in time for your 16km hike. There is a mine of information and a detailed map on the Auckland Council website. Go to aucklandcity.govt.nz and then to Parks and Facilities. Under the Walking, Biking and Horse riding tracks you'll find the Coast-to-Coast information and a map.

I had a couple of hair-raising moments on Ponsonby Rd last week. There are some red brick strips embedded in the road near Three Lamps corner with a white circled 40 on them - the speed limit for Ponsonby Rd. I assume their purpose is "traffic calming" but I had several pedestrians step out on to them in front of my car as if they had right of way. I didn't see any signs to indicate that these are pedestrian crossings and they certainly don't have "zebra crossing" markings. Did I miss something? Samantha Kay, Auckland.

No you didn't. These uncontrolled crossing points on Ponsonby Rd are just that - they are not zebra crossings, where motorists are obliged to stop for pedestrians. The red brick edgings and sometimes slightly raised road surface are an indication to drivers that they should reduce their speed and be aware of pedestrians. As always, however, both motorists and pedestrians have a duty of care each to the other.

- NZ Herald

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