Not all plastics are the same
You may not realise it, but currently not all plastics are recycled.
Due to significant changes to the global recycling market, plastics grades 3 to 7 are no longer accepted at the kerbside recycling or at transfer stations in Northland (and most of NZ.
These types of plastic make up a huge amount of the plastic used. Almost all yogurt, dips, and takeaways come in unrecyclable plastic packaging.
The good news is that last year the government announced it was investing $3 million in the creation of New Zealand's first 100 percent recycled plastic food packaging range. Pact Group (NZ) Ltd will make recycled packaging for meat and bakery trays, and and deli, food and produce, food and containers.
The Government also increased funding support for councils, community organisations and businesses for projects to recover and recycle more materials and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
But it's not ready yet....
Until some better options come along, what can we do?
Simply, we need to avoid products packaged in type 3-7 plastics as much as we can.
It’s not just good for the environment, plastic types 3, 6, 7 are made up of chemicals that are considered most concerning when it comes to toxicity.
Products like toys, take-out packaging, personal care products, spray bottles, and even teething rings are typically type 3. No. 6 items are made of polystyrene and include disposable plates and cups (including kids ‘party’ cups), meat trays, and take-out containers. Type 7, the “miscellaneous” category, is usually a mixture of plastics. This number is found on baby bottles and in 5 litre water bottles.
Here's some ways to help you reduce plastics 3-7
- Make your own
- Yoghurt make a large batch and decant into smaller reusable containers for school and work.
- Hummus and many dips are actually really easy to make at home.
- Muesli bars and cookies can be made at home and can be made much healthier. Get the kids involved too.
- Make your own bread (a breadmaker is a genius invention). Even just one loaf a week means 52 less single use bread-bags going to landfill!
- Choose products in glass or tin vs plastic wherever you can.
- If you have a dog, you can reuse plastic bread bags as ‘doggy do’ bags (so at least they have more than a single use lifespan).
- Store, reheat or freeze your leftovers in glass containers instead of in plastic containers or plastic wrap.
- Use a reusable glass or stainless steel water bottle.
- BYO coffee cup rather than a disposable takeaway. Ditto with taking your own container for your sushi lunch fix.
- Say no to the receipt at the register. These receipts are actually plastic coated (and can leach nasty chemicals too).
- Make your own cleaners, shampoos and lotions. They are surprisingly easy to make and store in glass jars and bottles. You can even reuse an old spray bottle rather than buying glass.
- Choose wood, cloth, steel and paper-based toys for your kids over plastic.
- Use your consumer power - contact the companies you are buying from and let them know your concerns about their packaging. Ask what they are doing to reduce waste or provide alternatives to non-recyclable plastics. The more we do this, the more likely they are to change.
These are just some ideas. We'd love to know what you are doing to help reduce your plastic usage.