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Significant Changes to Recycling Regulations Require Central Hawke’s Bay to Proactively Respond, in our Mission to Become a Waste Free CHB

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In the building of Central Hawke’s Bay District Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan in July 2019, the Central Hawke’s Bay community were asked how they would like to see the district’s waste approached.

Through the responses received, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council understand how important the correct management and reduction of waste is to the Central Hawke’s Bay community and have set a series of ambitious goals, designed to meet the long-term aspirational target of a Waste Free CHB.

These targets include:

  • Increase diversion from landfill to 70% by 2040
  • Increase diversion from landfill to 48% by 2025
  • Increase participation in kerbside recycling services to 60% by 2025

To reach these targets, Council and Community need to work together. But we can do it!

There’s a lot going on in the world of solid waste and in particular, recycling. There are fewer traditional markets looking to purchase our recycling and as a result of this, our recyclers are having to find new markets, or other ways of repurposing our recyclable material.

One of the most significant impacts however, happened earlier this year, when changes to the process of plastics disposal were introduced throughout New Zealand, to meet Basel Convention requirements – an international agreement involving more than 180 countries, which was amended in 2019 to better regulate the global trade in plastic waste, largely for the protection of developing countries where our plastic ‘recycling’ often ends up.

Prior to these amendments being made, Central Hawke’s Bay – alongside many other parts of New Zealand, were able to ‘recycle’ all of our plastics numbered 1 – 7, by mixing certain contaminate plastics (numbered 3, 4, 6 or 7). This meant that although these plastics left New Zealand’s shores, receiving countries dealt with them by sorting contaminate plastics from recyclable plastics and disposing of them as waste. The amendments to the Basel Convention says that from January 2021, we will no longer be able to do this. Instead, only recyclable plastics (numbered 1, 2 and 5) will be accepted for shipping overseas.  

At this stage, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council will still collect plastics numbered 3, 4, 6 and 7 however these are separated at a Materials Recycling Facility and sent to landfill. We will however in the future need to consider if we stop the collection of these. I encourage everyone in Central Hawke’s Bay to reduce their consumption of these plastics, as much as possible – so they don’t end up in landfill.

Currently, urban properties in Waipukurau and Waipawa are rated for their recycling to be collected form the kerbside in two crates. All other recycling can be deposited to our seven recycling drop off centres located in Takapau, Porangahau, Ongaonga, Tikokino, Otane, Waipukurau and Waipawa.

Although Council is doing as much as we can to work with both our contractors and community, there are a series of obstacles that we need the community to understand about their recycling:

  • On occasion, your kerbside recycling items might not be collected. There are several reasons for this. It might mean that you’ve included an unrecyclable item in your crate, which means that crate is rejected to avoid contamination of recycling – which could result in an entire truckload of recycling being rejected. Council has recently worked with our contractor, Smart Environmental, to develop stickers which inform you of the reason your recycling has not been collected. If you think there has been a mistake, I invite you to contact Council to let us know by calling us on 06 857 8060.
  • Recycling can only be recycled if it’s clean. If a plastic milk bottle isn’t rinsed before being put out with your other recycling for example, not only will it leave a smell for workers down the line, but it could contaminate other items resulting in all of those contaminated items being sent straight to landfill where they could take hundreds of years – if not more – to decompose. For this reason, crates with dirty recycling items will not be collected from the kerb.
  • As above, only plastics numbered 1, 2 and 5 can be recycled in New Zealand. This is largely due to the international market demand resulting from recent amendments made to the Basel Convention I spoke about earlier. Although, at this stage, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council do collect plastics numbered 3, 4, 6 and 7, these are separated at the Material Recycling Facility and sent to landfill.
  • Each week, your plastic, tin, paper and cardboard recycling is transported from one of our Recycling Drop-off Centres to a Materials Recycling Facility to be separated and sorted. In order to minimise transport costs, the recycling is decanted from the Recycling Drop off Centre Bin, into a much larger open top bin, which is then covered before being moved. There has been noise on social media recently that these bins were being sent straight to landfill. I assure you that this is not the case.

Council have developed a Waste Free CHB online hub which you can find at www.chdbc.govt.nz/waste-free-chb. Here, you will find some tips on how to make purchasing choices so that you can avoid buying plastics that can’t be recycled, as well as further information and ideas on how you can reduce your waste, what exactly can be recycled, and what happens to your recycling once you drop it off either at the kerb, or one of our Recycling Drop-off Centres. We’ll continue to build and add to this and I invite you to provide your feedback and ideas.

Monique Davidson, Chief Executive Central Hawke's Bay District Council

17 January 2022

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