An Auckland dad has been saving the non-recyclable plastics his family uses for the entire year as an experiment to see just how much of the material we consume.

Simon Kay has been keeping the soft plastics, which cannot be put in kerbside bins because they jam up recycling machines, in rubbish bags in his garage since the start of the year.

"I thought ok, let's accumulate it for a year and see just how much it is," Kay said.

• READ MORE: 200,000 tonnes of Auckland rubbish sent to landfill a year

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There wasn't necessarily widespread knowledge about what could and couldn't be recycled and people may not realise plastic bags had to be taken to special bins which could be found in some supermarkets, he said.

Over the year he's filled 17 large rubbish bags, stuffing them to the brim with bread bags, cereal packets and plastic bags - 700 plastic bags, most of which had only been used once.

Kay estimated the mountain of plastic he'd tipped onto the floor of his Papatoetoe living room floor was about 40 per cent single use plastic bags.

"You carry something from the supermarket to the car to your house - it takes maybe a minute.

"And the bag is here for maybe centuries."

Simon Kay's Papatoetoe living room filled with the rubbish he's collected all year. Photo / Doug Sherring
Simon Kay's Papatoetoe living room filled with the rubbish he's collected all year. Photo / Doug Sherring

He worried about the amount of non recyclable plastic which ended up in our environment, especially the ocean.

"If we found an alternatives for plastic bags then immediately a huge percentage of this is gone," he said, gesturing to the pile of plastic.

The majority of the rest of the rest came from food packaging, and the food industry needed to think about how much and what kind of packaging was used, he said.

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Despite cutting down on his use of plastic bags and trying to reduce his consumption of other plastic packaging, Kay was surprised by the sheer volume of plastic he'd accumulated.

"I wasn't expecting a pile this big to be honest," he said.

As a family of six, his household may be a little bigger than average, but the thought of multiplying the amount of plastic he'd collected by the number of households in New Zealand was staggering.

"This is a lot of crap," he said.

Kay had explained to his kids only recently why he'd been keeping all their plastics - his 13-year-old daughter Ella Kay just thought he'd forgotten to take out the rubbish for ages.

He hoped the project would get his children thinking about plastic waste.

Ella said people should use different bags to plastic ones and thought new Zealand needed to do something to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.

Harry Kay, 8, was worried about animals and also thought the big pile of plastic smelled bad once it had all been tipped out.

Kay will be taking his 17 bags of plastic in trips to the family's local supermarket soon to drop them off at soft plastic recycling bins.

"My wife will be pleased," he said.