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Latest news form the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.

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Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme

  • The Hon Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment has announced that the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme has been made an accredited product stewardship scheme under the Waste Miminisation (2018) Act.  She presented a certificate to Packaging Forum members attending the recent launch of the new Smart technology Rubbish and Recycling Bins in Wellington saying:


  • “The scheme means people can return soft plastics such as shopping and bread bags to supermarkets and other major retailers around the country. Plastic bags and other soft plastics are a hazard to marine life and because they can break down into microplastics in the oceans, are also a hazard to human health. Stopping plastics from getting into streams and the sea is the first step in reducing the ocean plastic problem.”


  • The Minister linked the importance of recycling soft plastics to our work on litter abatement showing the broad range of our Packaging Forum programmes.


  • As an accredited scheme, we have agreed targets for soft plastics recycling to achieve a 35% recycling rate by 2025; to expand the geographic reach of the service; and to help develop on short recycling capacity.


  • The scheme has operated as a Waste Minimisation Funded project within the Public Place Recycling Scheme but with the Waste Fund’s financial support ending on 30 June 2018 and our new status as an accredited scheme, we will now establish a Steering Committee. According to the Packaging Forum’s constitution, the Steering Committee will consist of a minimum of 5 members to a maximum of 10 members. Membership of the Steering Committee is open to all members of the soft plastic recycling scheme.
  • The Steering Committee will meet typically four times per year with other meetings and decisions being conducted through conference calls and emails. If you are interested in being part of the Soft Plastics Recycling Steering Committee, please let me know. We are seeking members from across the soft plastics supply chain. The Steering Committee will be officially appointed at the Packaging Forum’s AGM in July. Following the AGM, the newly elected Steering Committee will elect 3 of its members to join The Packaging Forum’s Governance Board.
  • This is a particularly important time as we transition from a project supported by Government Waste Funding, to a 100% industry-funded scheme. The China Sword policy has had a major impact on the recycling industry including soft plastics. We have been working hard to find on-shore processing solutions and recognise that we must pay for soft plastics materials to be processed, as post-consumer flexible plastic has no financial value to a collector. This obviously impacts the costs of managing the scheme, from store collections, baling, storage and processing. The scheme is so successful with consumers that we are now collecting 12 tonnes per week with volumes increasing weekly, and there is huge demand from the regions where the scheme isn’t operated to be part of the programme.
  • To achieve growth and fund processing, we are reviewing our fee structure and costs, and will look to the new Steering Committee for guidance in this.
  • It’s thanks to the support of our members and participating stores that we have received Government recognition for our Scheme, at a time when plastic as a packaging material is being questioned around the world.  Delivering a successful recycling operation for soft plastic packaging shows that industry can, and is, taking responsibility for materials that have not been recycled previously!
  • Shardlows Packaging is a sponsor of this scheme and we have a soft plastics recycling collection bin for all our customers to put their plastic bags into.