19 Jul 2015

Finally... Plastic bag recycling on the way

7:10 am on 19 July 2015

The Government is to trial a new recycling service aimed at plastic shopping bags.

Plastic bags are currently not accepted in kerbside collections because they cannot be recycled in New Zealand.

Packaged food.

Soft plastic can not be recycled in New Zealand and ends up in landfill. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Government will spend $1.2 million on the trial, which will initially involve establishing a new facility in Auckland that will have the capacity to handle soft plastics.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said this approach had proved successful in Australia.

"New Zealanders have made a great transition over the last 20 years with the kerbside recycling services - that enables us to recycle the hard plastics - but we know want to tackle the other problems, like plastic bags and bread bags that just end up in a landfill," he said.

The Warehouse, Pak 'n' Save, Countdown and New World stores throughout Auckland are taking part in the trial.

The supermarket chains will set up recycling bins outside their stores, and Countdown's general manager of strategy and corporate affairs, Richard Manaton, said the industry would match the Government's investment dollar for dollar.

"I think the key is customers coming in and using the service. If customers don't use the service then it's going to start falling over, but we're pretty hopeful that they will," he said.

The Packaging Forum's Lyn Mayes, who will manage the project, said the three year trial had lofty ambitions.

"Once the trial is proven, we'll move into other geographies with the aim that in three years, 70 percent of New Zealanders will have access to the service within 20 kilometres from their home or work," she said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs