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Helpful Resources

We produce products that are designed to be kinder on the environment than their conventional counterparts. We strongly believe that alternatives like compostable, bio-plastic, and paper are superior options. But 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 the limited capacity of waste streams currently available within New Zealand. Nonetheless, we can all work towards a greener future by being discerning in what we buy and how we dispose of it. Here’s some information to help you do just that. If you want further information please visit wasteminz.org.nz.

Know what you’re buying

In the wake of the single-use plastic bag ban there has been a huge boom in plastic alternatives and, with it, confusion about which products are genuinely eco-friendly. Here’s a quick run-down on the materials you’ll commonly see being offered as alternatives to traditional plastic and what to look out for:

Conventional plastic bags:

contain polyethylene (“PE”), typically either high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or low density polyethylene (LDPE). An incredibly useful product that, unfortunately, takes hundreds of years to degrade. Single-use plastic bags have been criticised (and ultimately legislated against) because their useful life is short yet it takes considerable resource to produce (polyethylene is derived from natural gas and petroleum) and after being disposed of the bags hang around for hundreds of years clogging up landfills, polluting waterways or blowing into the bush. Mass production of soft plastic has left us with many billions of tonnes of waste. Over 90% of it has never been recycled. It’s predicted that, without significant change, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish.  

Compostable plastic bags:

typically contain a mixture of polymers including PBAT, PLA and a plant-based polymer (such as corn-starch or sugarcane). Compostable materials are designed to degrade in moist conditions and return to carbon dioxide and water without leaving harmful residues in the process. Please note that all compostable products are not equal – some are only suitable for industrial/commercial composting (which is limited in NZ) and won’t break down adequately in your backyard compost. Look for home composting certifications like those you’ll see on all ecopack compostable products. Ecopack compostable/biodegradable products are made with GMO-free corn starch and designed to break down in 90 – 180 days (depending on compost environment).

Degradable plastic bags:

conventional plastic with a chemical agent added to speed up the degrading process. Degradable bags, with the help of their TDPA agent, will break down into small particles in sunlight and oxygen in approximately 2 – 4 years (dependent on environment). Please beware that some companies will use the term “biodegradable” when “degradable” would be more appropriate (compostable products may be accurately labelled as biodegradable).

Recycled plastic bags:

made from soft plastic that has been reclaimed and given a second life. When plastics are reused, and made into new products, the production does not require additional fossil fuels for raw material, making it much less intensive on the environment than creating virgin plastic. Recycled plastic production is improving quickly and it’s now possible to produce recycled products with comparable strength and performance as their virgin plastic counterparts. And they’re able to be recycled over again. Note whether the recycled product you’re buying has been manufactured from post-consumer plastic content (such as food wrappers, bread bags, courier packs and bubble wrap) or post-consumer waste. And how much recycled content it contains. Please beware that some companies will use the term “recycled” when they’ve simply used their virgin plastic offcuts and by-product, which is a great waste-efficiency measure, but arguably not true recycling. Ecopack recycled bin liners are made from 100% post-consumer plastic.

Paper bags:

made from the pulp of wood and used for toting groceries long before the rise of single-use plastic bags. Paper bags are now making a come-back. And they are recyclable and biodegradable. Where possible, buy kraft paper bags that have been made from recycled paper and sourced from sustainable forests; look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark.

Consider end-of-life disposal

In addition to considering what we’re buying, let’s also think about how it’s going to be disposed of after use. 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 consumables to food and fashion!

Composting at home

52% of kiwis are now proactively composting. 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:

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 windrowaerated 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

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 sources of sustainability information

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

Zero Waste Network

http://zerowaste.co.nz/ - 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.

The Rubbish Trip

http://therubbishtrip.co.nz/ - offer free presentations and workshops to community groups and schools across nationwide about how and why individuals can reduce their waste footprint.

Ministry for the Environment

https://www.mfe.govt.nz/ - 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

Sustainable Business Network

https://sustainable.org.nz/ - a network of NZ businesses committed to empowering and advising on environmental issue.

Product Information

Please note that things change fast around here, so for the most up-to-date product information refer to what’s listed on this website.