Residents in Waipā District are being urged not to buy non-recyclable plastics after the council changed its policy on what types of plastics would be collected for recycling.

The council will now collect only plastics type 1, 2 and 5, as opposed to collecting one to seven.

Waipā District Council says the change is due to a shift in the international recycling market, where plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 are considered valueless and have no buyers in off-shore markets.

The change in Waipā's recycling collection raises questions around the launch of Hamilton's new kerbside collection, scheduled for August 31.

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Waipā says its move means plastics types 3, 4, 6 and 7 — found in things like biscuit trays, tomato sauce bottles and some takeaway food containers — will no longer be recycled and instead only be collected as rubbish.

The lid of the new wheelie bin designated for recycling plastic one to seven for Hamilton's new kerbside collection. Photo / Samuel Rowland
The lid of the new wheelie bin designated for recycling plastic one to seven for Hamilton's new kerbside collection. Photo / Samuel Rowland

Council transportation manager Bryan Hudson said these plastics had a negative market value and are now being sent to landfill.

"There is a nationwide shift away from these plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7. They simply cannot be recycled and are valueless.

"There is just nowhere to send them," Hudson said.

"Although these plastic types only make up a small percentage of what we collect, it is important for council to stop accepting them to drive a change in the market."

The council says a comprehensive report released by the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand found plastic types 3, 4, 6 and 7 made up around just 3 per cent of all recycled plastics.

"People may not realise how few items are actually plastics 3, 4, 6 an7 so it should be a simple change to make," Hudson said.

"In saying that, is it vital people stop putting these plastics in the recycling so other good recycling does not become contaminated."

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Hudson said residents should look for the recycling symbol on all plastic containers to see what number they were.

"It is really simple, anything with a 1, 2 or 5 goes into your yellow mixed recycling bin.

"Any other number goes into the rubbish bin as do containers without numbers."

Wheelie bins are rolling out across Hamilton this month. Photo / Hamilton City Council
Wheelie bins are rolling out across Hamilton this month. Photo / Hamilton City Council

In Hamilton, during the past month there has been a roll out of wheelie bins across the city to prepare for the start of the new kerbside four-bin collection on August 31,

Hamilton currently collects plastics 1 and 2 for recycling, however, that is set to change to include 3 to 7.

Waikato News asked Hamilton City Council if the new kerbside collection will include plastics three to seven, as announced.

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The council would not answer questions directly and said further information would be provided in a media statement next week.

However, on the council's 'Fight the Landfill' website, it says "plastic types 3, 4, 6, 7 – and type 5 under one litre in volume – will be sorted at the city's new material recovery facility in Te Rapa.

"The council is working on a long-term local solution for recycling these 'low value' items.

"Recycling plastics 3-7 is an issue faced by all councils nationally. The New Zealand Government has allocated three billion dollars over a three-year term to invest in regional economic development through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

A significant part of this fund is investing towards building the infrastructure to recycle and reprocess plastics onshore."

The council did say that July 1 marks the start of Plastic Free July worldwide, and HCC is encouraging local businesses and the community "to get on board by changing what they're doing in relation to non-recyclable plastics".

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Worldwide, about 50 per cent of plastics produced today is single-use plastic packaging, the council says.

Of these, the most commonly found single-use items in the environment are cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers.

For more information on plastic types and Waipā's recycling service head to www.waipadc.govt.nz/recycling.

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