As New Zealanders we collectively loved the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme. We dropped off our plastics at the supermarket to be collected for recycling but too many people took too much waste and we overwhelmed the Australian recycler to the point that they turned NZ’s soft plastics away. A New Zealand based recycler was announced and then the scheme was abruptly put on hold.
Recycling soft plastics seemed like a silver bullet – we could eat the same packaged foods without feeling guilty about creating landfill waste, or ocean plastic pollution. But the problem with recycling being proposed and sold as a solution is that we all carry on consuming in the same way because "it can be recycled".
The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme has taught us all a valuable lesson: most of the waste in household rubbish bins in New Zealand is likely made up of soft plastic.
The scheme is planned for a return later this year but at a smaller scale which will leave most of the country’s soft plastics destined for landfill. So what can we do to reduce our soft plastic consumption? Donna Peterson from the waste management organisation WasteMINZ, asks "Do we actually really need to be using this amount of soft plastics? Are there alternatives out there that are actually better from an environmental perspective in terms of not creating waste in the first place."
At The Rubbish Whisperer we love reusable alternatives to single-use plastics and want to help you begin ditching the soft plastic habit. So we’re putting our NZ-made reusable produce bags on sale until the end of Easter.