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How we deal with waste needs to change

How we deal with waste needs to change

Here at Ecobags NZ our intention is to create plastic alternatives, and sustainable packaging solutions, so that we can all be the change. We’re working towards a zero-waste philosophy but, we’re realists so, we acknowledge that our company (and our wider NZ society!) has a long way to go.

We’re conscious that some of the products we’ve pioneered aren’t always meeting with ideal end-of-life disposal – particularly compostable and recyclable products - due to limited commercial composting and recycling services currently available within New Zealand.

We strongly believe that plastic alternatives like compostable, bio-plastic, and paper are superior options - even if they do end up as general waste headed to landfill. Our rationale is simple – a bag that will eventually break down, leaving behind no harmful residues, may not be the perfect solution but it has to be better than traditional plastic which hangs around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years!

So, we would encourage you to not only consider what you buy, but also how you dispose of it. It’s great practise to consider, before sending anything to landfill, whether it can be reused or recycled. This mindset will set us all on the path of living more lightly – and can apply to everything from home and business to food and fashion!

While we all hope for more widely available alternative waste streams in future, here are some pointers to information and waste minimisation resources currently available…

Composting at home

All of our compostable bin liners and food storage products are certified for both home and industrial composting. In an ideal world, your compostable bag will be filled with compostable materials (like food scraps and green waste) and placed in your home compost pile to become nutrients for your garden.

Compostable household waste includes:

Vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, paper and cardboard (uncoated), crushed egg shells, pasta/rice, breads, nuts, seaweed, popcorn, toothpicks, bamboo skewers, tissues, nail clippings, cotton balls, dryer lint, hair, pencil shavings, flowers, droppings from herbivorous pets

For more information about how to compost at home, see the Compost Collective website: compostcollective.org.nz/

For information about how to avoid wasting food, see the Love Food Hate Waste website: lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz/

Industrial composting facilities

For a list of New Zealand facilities that accept compostable packaging please see the WasteMINZ website.

It’s worth noting that commercial composting facilities all have different criteria regarding the materials they will accept (called “feedstock”) – this is due to the varying methods used to create compost (such as windrow, aerated static piles; vermicomposting or in-vessel methods).

Organic waste collection

The following companies collect organic waste and deliver to commercial composting facilities (please note that this is not an exhaustive list – you may be able to find others in your area).

Auckland Reclaim Ltd Collect from hotels, restaurants, cafes and businesses reclaim.co.nz
Pink Bins Collect from events and festivals pinkbins.co.nz
Little & Brave Collect compostable bags, nappies and wipes Littleandbrave.co.nz
Robert Lind - Envriofert Collect from fast food outlets and food manufacturers Envirofert.co.nz
Wellington Organic Waste Management Ltd Collect from commercial food outlets such as cafes, shops and supermarkets organicwastemanagement.co.nz
Kai to Compost Collection service for medium to large organic waste producers in Wellington city. envirowaste.co.nz/services/commercial-services/waste-collections/
Christchurch Christchurch City Council Weekly kerbside collection for organics including food and garden waste ccc.govt.nz/services/rubbish-and-recycling/greenbin/
Timaru Timaru District Council Weekly kerbside collection for organics including food and garden waste timaru.govt.nz/services/environment/waste-minimisation/kerbside-collection

 

Soft plastic recycling facilities

Soft plastic recycling has received bad press previously but there are a number of genuine schemes up and running in New Zealand. Just be sure that you’re recycling the right stuff – please don’t send compostable bags to soft plastic recycling – they are set up to recycle soft plastics such as bread bags, produce and frozen food bags, courier packs, bubble wrap and soft plastic packaging.

For Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington locations see: recycling.kiwi.nz/solutions/soft-plastics/store-locator

Other useful resources

There are many groups and resources dedicated to improving how New Zealander’s deal with waste. Here are just a few:

Represents community enterprises nationwide who are working towards zero waste. Their mission is connect, educate, enable and inspire and to be a unifying voice at local, regional and central government levels. Offer free presentations and workshops to community groups and schools across nationwide about how and why individuals can reduce their waste footprint. One of the more topical issue is around how the Ministry can influence waste reduction with the proposed landfill levy. Read the summary document here: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Consultations/reducing-waste-a-more-effective-landfill-levy-summary-document.pdf A network of NZ businesses committed to empowering and advising on environmental issue. Photo by Hamza Javaid on Unsplash.
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