Wastebusters still selling plastics

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YVONNE O’HARA
yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

The high quality of the recyclable plastics processed by Wanaka and Alexandra Wastebusters has meant they still have an overseas market for their products, despite a Chinese Government ban on importing some types of waste material, Wastebusters media officer Gina Dempster says.

“We are still managing to sell our products, which we are delighted about,” Ms Dempster said.

As both Wastebusters sites had superior sorting techniques, both by machine and hand, that meant they consistently provided high quality, cleaner, well sorted bales of plastics with fewer contaminants, which overseas customers preferred, she said.

and we have that focus on quality,” she said.

Ms Dempster said, as they were able to sell their materials, that meant the public was able to “keep the faith” in Wastebusters’ systems and continued to support the recycling initiative.

New Zealand was sending 15 million kilograms of mixed paper and mixed plastics that were not recycled locally to China annually until last year, when the Chinese Government introduced the ban.

Wastebusters is working with Waimate Resource Recovery Park and sends bales of polyethylene terephthalate plastics (soft drink bottles) to it, which are then sent on to Asia, and in particular Thailand.

A truck collected 40 bales, each weighing about 300kg, from Alexandra last Thursday.

Alexandra site manager Lauree O’Neill said they also had markets for grade three to seven plastics and paper, while all its glass was recycled in Christchurch.

The only thing it had no market for was the type of plastic used for things like margarine containers.

Ms Dempster said world-wide there was a much lower demand for recycled plastics and a lot of recycling agencies could not “shift product”.

“The overall tonnage we recycled in both Wanaka and Alex last year to June was 1793 tonnes.”

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said in a statement both the ban and a drop in global commodity prices for recyclable products had a negative impact for New Zealand’s waste recycling industry, which had led to an increase in stockpiles for smaller operators who did not have ready assess to alternative markets.

The environment ministry is setting up a taskforce, which included representatives from councils and the waste product sector, to deal with the impact of the Chinese Government’s ban on the import of many recycling materials.

Ms Sage said the Government was using funds from the waste levy to invest in projects that would accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a circular economy, including investing in onshore recycling plants.

She said it was also looking at options such as expanding the waste levy to more landfills, improving the data on waste including recyclables, and introducing other tools, such as product stewardship, levies and bans, to reduce the environmental harm of products.