From left, Victory Primary School students Sarah Innes-Walker, Tahlia Pene and Mahina Taylor, MP Nick Smith, Victory School principal Helen Taylor-Young, Sui Len Par and teacher Lynda Duncan, with mayor Rachel Reese and Foodstuffs sustainability manager Mike Sammons at New World Nelson on Friday. The school was presented with a bench made from 15,000 plastic bags. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Soft plastic recycling comes to Nelson

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Plastic shopping bags, bread bags and food wrap can now be recycled in Nelson.

New World, Pak’nSave and Countdown supermarkets have introduced soft plastic recycling bins as part of the Love NZ soft plastic recycling programme that was rolled out in the region on Friday.

The items – which have traditionally been sent to the landfill – will be bundled up and taken to Melbourne to be turned into outdoor furniture.

Project manager, Lyn Mayes of The Packaging Forum, says they are “delighted” to launch the programme in Nelson.

She says the programme recently received a $700,000 grant from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund and now reaches 70 per cent of Kiwis, with around eight tonnes of packaging collected every week across the country.

The most popular branded packaging that has been collected through the scheme so far is bread bags (21 per cent), paper goods packaging (18 per cent) and frozen food bags (14 per cent).

55 per cent of bags that were collected were unbranded, including single use carrier bags, fresh produce and bakery bags, and newspaper and magazine wrappers.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says the scheme is the “next logical step” for households to reduce waste and he is looking forward to seeing Nelsonians embrace it.

“Most households now recycle paper, cardboard, glass, metal cans and hard plastic containers, and the extra challenge with soft plastics was finding a practical way of collecting them and keeping them clean enough for re-use.”

“This is a fantastic initiative, but for it to work every one of us needs to communicate to our 45,000 households in the Nelson region that there’s now a solution for these soft plastics.”

New World is also asking customers whether they’d be willing to pay to use plastic bags. The ‘Bag Vote’ gives customers the choice of no charge, a 5c per bag charge or a 10c per bag charge.

The money raised by the bag charges will be donated to environmental causes, including Seacleaners.

Voting is open until October 8 at www.bagvote.co.nz