Recycling just got a lot clearer

29 March 2019

Wellington City Council will soon be delivering free packs of recycling bags to Wellington households – and although they are no longer green, they’re much greener than before.

Image of the new recyclable recycling bag

The new see through bags, being delivered to 26,000 households over the next couple of months, are now recyclable alongside the items that are put in it.

The change comes in part due to public demand for the bags. The bags are the same size as before, and take the same materials – clean paper, cardboard, plastic, tins and cans. Being clear, they will also reduce contamination and risks to collectors, according to Mayor Justin Lester.

“Together Wellington City residents recycle about 12,000 tonnes of materials a year. This reduces the amount of waste that would otherwise end up in the Landfill by about 20 percent – but obviously we’d like to see this number grow.

“Part of the problem, is about 10% of recycling ends up in Landfill due to contamination, so now the collector will be able to clearly identify any contamination including harmful items or glass.”

The main kerbside recycling contamination:

  • Glass going in with co-mingled materials instead of being separated into crate
  • Food contamination in plastic packaging, glass jars and pizza boxes
  • Garden waste
  • Dirty nappies
  • Plastics being mixed into glass crates with glass
  • Polystyrene contamination

The Council’s Infrastructure and Sustainability portfolio leader Councillor Iona Pannett says this is a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go to reduce waste in the capital. 

“Over 50% of what is in rubbish bags or private wheelie bins is potentially recyclable – paper and cardboard 28% and plastics 36% are the biggest offenders. Food is also an issue so the council will be undertaking a trial of a kerbside composting trial later in the year. 

“We know most residents are good at recycling, but we encourage anyone who is unsure about what they can recycle to check on our online directory for how to better reduce, reuse, and recycle.

“We’re pleased to say these new recycling bags are a more sustainable alternative, which conforms to the necessary requirements like strength, shelf life and affordability. 

“The bags will be processed off-shore in Malaysia whilst a market exists. Longer term we hope that these bags can be recycled on-shore and that a market will develop for products made from them,” adds Councillor Pannett.  

The new bags will be recycled back into LDPE pellets, as a ‘raw’ material as part of manufacturing of new products.

LDPE is widely used for manufacturing various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic bags for computer components, and various molded laboratory equipment. Its most common use is in plastic bags. Other products made from it include trays and general purpose containers.

Not every address will receive the free pack though, with inner-city residents having a different process for recycling, and with some streets on a blacklist because of ongoing rubbish offences.

Green recycling bags will still be collected. The Council also has 2000 green recycling bags in stock which will be distributed in the first stages of delivery – which starts this Saturday 30 March.