Soft plastic recycling

Soft plastics recycling scheme on hold

The soft plastic recycling scheme that was based in supermarkets and The Warehouse was temporarily put on hold from 1 January until further notice. Unfortunately there is no alternative to recycle soft plastics at this time, and soft plastics are not accepted in the Council's kerbside recycling bins or in the plastic bins at the transfer stations.

You can choose to stockpile soft plastics at your home, in the expectation that the recycling scheme will start again later in the year as signalled by Soft Plastics Recycling. There is a risk of having to dispose of the stockpile should the programme not start again. The end uses that are being trialed may not prove to be sufficient to deal with the amount of plastics being generated in New Zealand.

It is timely to begin thinking about how to make purchasing choices that minimise the amount of soft plastic that is purchased and therefore having to stockpile or throw away.

  • Avoid pre-packaged fruit and veges
  • Take reusable produce bags as well as reusable shopping bags to the supermarket - you can buy these at the supermarket and fruit and vege shops
  • Take your own containers with the tare weight written on them for bulk purchases at the likes of Bin Inn.

Visit the One Planet website and Future Living Skills for more information about reducing waste and living more sustainably. Visit the Soft Plastics website to keep up to date with the recycling scheme.

Recycling soft plastic for good  heart_logo_feb_2016

Any plastic that can be scrunched into a ball can be taken back to participating supermarkets for recycling.

An initiative to introduce recycling bins so that shoppers can take back their used soft plastic bags to supermarkets and retail premises is available at supermarkets in the Waimakariri.

The new project will take all soft plastic bags including bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wrap, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, shopping bags, sanitary hygiene packaging - basically anything made of plastic which can be scrunched into a ball.

Customers can bring their used soft plastics back to store and put them in the recycling bin. This will be collected from store by REDcycle who also run the programme in Australia. Initially the materials will be sent back to Australia where they are made into park benches and fitness circuits for playgrounds until there are facilities in NZ such as those planned at Astron Plastics that can process these products.

Not in the recycling bin

We only accept rigid plastic containers (bottles, yogurt pottles, margarine tubs) and semi-rigid plastics (biscuit trays), plus only supermarket carry bags. The other soft plastics are not accepted at the recycling sorting plant – these items are currently being sent to Australia to be manufactures into ‘plastic lumber’ whereas what we get is sorted and sent off to be recycled into a different range of products.


Soft plastics  can't be processed at the other end, as it gets caught in the machinery and needs to be pulled off and sent to landfill. For recycling to work, it needs to be clean and the correct stuff - check the sticker inside your wheelie bin as to what can go in, or collect a leaflet from the transfer station or Council service centre. Coffee cups can't be recycled now if you have an old sticker. What can I recycle (pdf, 2.6 MB).

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