Green Team Column #5: Soft Plastic Recycling in Hokitika!

Soft plastic recycling is here courtesy of New World!

What’s all the fuss about you might ask? Well, all the soft plastic that can’t go into our recycling bins can now be recycled – just collect it at home and drop it into the special bin in the foyer at New World.

If we all do it, New World Owner/Manager Marc Brokenshire will be delighted!

“Quantity is not a problem” he said, “we’ll cope! It’s collected, taken to Christchurch and will be recycled into new bins, benches and bollards among other things. Two of the new benches have just been installed.” The benches are made from the equivalent of over 21,000 shopping bags so it’s great to see the end product of our recycling.

Since Marc and wife Melanie took over the reins at New World, they have reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by around 50%, and now divert and recycle around 90% of total waste generated. Marc says they are always looking for new ways to further reduce the waste at the store.

And now they have enabled us to divert much of our own waste from the landfill.

Currently, we can put plastics with recycle numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5, into our yellow topped bins, along with paper, cardboard and tins, but other plastic was going to the landfill.

Now we can recycle soft plastic, like single use shopping bags, bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper bags, chip bags, biscuit wrap including silver lined packets, rice bags, courier envelopes and those bags that keep our Guardian from getting soggy when it’s delivered! Basically, anything made of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball, as long as it is empty and dry.

A very limited amount of contamination can be tolerated, but spare a thought for the lovely people who have to check and sort through it, so if not clean, you can give it a quick rinse, turn it inside out to dry overnight and then add it to your collection to take to New World next time you shop.

We’ve looked into the Frequently Asked Questions for you, or you can read them all at the packaging forum website,

For example, those trays protecting biscuits are not soft plastic. They are classed as rigid and unfortunately cannot be recycled locally unless they have the right recycle number (1, 2, 4 or 5).

A little bit of rigid plastic can be handled, for example the top of ‘suckies’ – those little soft plastic packets of yogurt or juice, also known as squeeze pouches.

Another challenging new plastic is one that is bio-degradable or compostable. These are designed to break down in the normal waste stream at the dump and cannot be recycled.

So, some things will still end up in the landfill, but our challenge to you is to keep reducing what goes into the green waste bin.

If the packaging can’t go in the yellow topped bin or the new soft plastic recycling bin at New World, get stroppy and let the manufacturer know you’re not happy, or switch to another brand with more thoughtful packaging.

For now, if you can’t easily avoid them, collect soft plastics, drop them to New World, and perhaps take a seat on a recycled park bench that you have helped to create.

And don’t forget to follow us on facebook – greenteamhokitika!

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Green Team Hokitika