Nelson Environment Centre manager Anton Drazevic says the council’s recycling move is a positive one. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Council calls on retailers to phase out plastics

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Nelson Council has written to local supermarkets and other retailers, calling on them to get on board with upcoming changes to the way the city recycles its plastic waste.

From 1 July, Nelson’s kerbside collection service will only collect plastic types 1,2 and 5. Plastics 3, 4 and 7 are shipped overseas and, as most global markets now refuse to accept the city’s waste, there is no way of knowing whether it is processed sustainably.

The letter is signed by infrastructure committee chair councillor Brian McGurk, who calls on supermarkets and other local businesses to “take the initiative in phasing out the use of plastic types 3, 4, 6 and 7”.

“As Nelson was the first city council to declare a climate emergency we have a duty to act ethically and responsibly. We simply cannot, in good conscience, send these plastics overseas to potentially end up as someone else’s rubbish, where employment practices may differ significantly from New Zealand, as well as incurring a significant carbon cost along the way.”

Annually, Nelsonians recycle around 1,500 tonnes of glass, 1,550 tonnes of fibre (paper and cardboard), 108 tonnes of steel, 72 tonnes each of plastics 1 and 2 and 90 tonnes (plastics 3 to 7).

Typical packaging made from plastic types 1, 2 and 5 includes soft drink and milk bottles, plastic fruit trays, ice cream containers and shampoo bottles.

Plastic types 3, 4 and 7 include items like make up containers, garden hose, cling wrap, car parts and computers.

Council has not collected soft type 6 plastic for some time. Type 6 includes polystyrene cups and takeaway clamshells, cheap toys, foam meat trays and plastic cutlery.

“We’re encouraging people to seriously think about the packaging of the products they buy and consider avoiding these plastic types where possible,” says Brian.

Over the next six months, he says council will be explaining what this will mean for Nelson, so everyone is ready for change on 1 July 2020.