Buller District Council

Buller recycling system is changing

16th December, 2020

Council’s waste management system is changing due to the challenging recycling situation in New Zealand. Council and Smart Environmental staff will be on the street this summer starting this week to educate residents and business about the new recycling guidelines.

The limited infrastructure for recycling inside New Zealand, especially for plastics and fibres has cost the council more than $50,000 since July 2019 and cost an additional $12,000 in the last 5 months alone.

From 14 December 2020, the Buller recycling system will only accept plastics #1, #2 and #5 as they are now the only recyclable plastics that can be processes within New Zealand. They must be rinsed clean and lids need to be taken off. Examples include clear plastics like soda and water bottles or mayonnaise containers. Council encourage residents to check the numbers on the package to identify the plastic.

Paper and cardboard continue to be accepted if they are clean. They must be bigger than an envelope for the sorting team to treat them effectively. This means small items of paper like till receipts, shredded paper, coffee cups or toilet rolls are not accepted.

Glass will continue to be accepted, but it must be cleaned. The Westport Recycling plant can only deal with glass products such as bottles or jars.  It cannot deal with large glass times such as car windscreens or other glass components.

Aluminium or tins will be accepted as they are reusable. However, they must be rinsed and cleaned for the waste plant to compact them for shipment.

Looking at the numbers it becomes obvious why change is needed. Council’s Coordinator Waste Management Juliana Ruiz emphasises “17 tonnes of plastic and 70 tonnes of paper and carboards was collected from July 2020 to November 2020. Glass accounted for 187 tonnes and aluminium and tins for 4 tonnes. Glass, aluminium and tin are the only materials which demand exists for once they have been recycled”.   “These are high quantities of material and we all have a role to play to ensure this recyclable material is of a good standard and able to be processed”.

Of the 17 tonnes plastic collected only milk bottles and clear PET were recycled. The rest of the mixed plastics are needing to be stored in the local Material Recovery Facility without any place to go.  The 70 tonnes of paper and cardboard face the same destiny, waiting to be sent overseas.

Juliana Ruiz outlines an investigation into our waste management revealed that a significant quantity of recyclable goods was contaminated with food waste and was not cleaned properly, requiring this to be sent to landfill. Council staff analysed the waste collected from November 2019 to October 2020. They established that 26% of the 527-tonne intake was waste which couldn’t be recycled. Meaning 141 tonne is destined for landfill.

Ms Ruiz says: “This situation needs improving. Residents need to better understand recycling standards and change their attitude to minimise waste to avoid an increasing costs to ratepayers.”

“By reducing waste, and residents following local recycling rules, the flow of items that cannot be recycled inside New Zealand can be minimised. This is a crucial step to help New Zealand to achieve its goal of sending any recyclable waste offshore”.

With residents’ support, the council can avoid significant increase in the cost of refuse and recycling. Council has prepared an information sheet that shows what can be recycled and how to minimise waste. This information is available at https://bullerdc.govt.nz/recycling-refuse-in-buller/ .

The council recommends that residents check their recycling calendar which can be found on the council’s website or drop into the front desk for a copy. Other tips include doing a household waste audit to make sensible purchasing decisions when it comes to buying products with packaging. Starting a compost bin where scraps can decompose is a good initiative and can provide households with the opportunity to grow their own food.


For further information please contact:
Juliana Ruiz


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