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No. 5 plastic recycling coming soon for Hastings residents

number 5 plastic

Hastings resident Courtney Henderson is looking forward to No. 5 plastic recycling starting.

From March 1, Hastings residents will be able to include clean number 5 plastics in their kerbside recycling collection, as well as their drop-offs at rural and transfer station recycling centres.

Number 5 plastic products are made from polypropylene and can include common items such as ice cream containers, large yoghurt tubs, clear takeaway containers and dip pottles.

Council stopped collecting this type of plastic, along with numbers 3, 4, 6 and 7, in 2019 due to China’s decision to restrict accepting plastics and the dramatic impact that had on world recycling markets, alongside an increased focus on finding ways to recycle onshore. 

Since that time, Council has been working closely with its recycling contractor Smart Environmental to find a way to sustainably recycle these products within New Zealand.

In December 2021, Smart Environmental merged with Earthcare Ltd in Masterton, which has a facility that enables the plastics to be sorted into the different numbers by optical lasers, ensuring that the processed plastics are of a high quality that can be recycled by New Zealand re-processors.

Council group manager asset management Craig Thew said that currently there were good, well established onshore markets for recycling plastic numbers 1 and 2, which once collected and processed were able to recycled and repurposed by New Zealand companies.

“Before making the change to include number 5’s in our kerbside collection we wanted to ensure that there were stable onshore markets to recycle these items.”

When recycled, number 5 plastic can be remanufactured into household tools and utensils, varied containers, outdoor/garden tools and a wide variety of building materials.

Council joint waste futures committee Chair Ann Redstone said: “We’re excited to be able to offer this service to Hastings residents, which will help see resources being reused – but want to remind residents that reducing and re-using/refilling products is still the best option.”

The team is currently finalising the details for the new service that will start on March 1.

As with plastic numbers 1 and 2, number 5 plastics will need to be clean before being put forward for recycling, and at kerbside can be placed into the council-supplied crates with the other plastics.

The easiest way to check if an item is recyclable or not is to look for the numbered triangle.

Look for numbers on the bottom of plastics – if it’s numbered 3, 4, 6 or 7 or has no number then it is non-recyclable and needs to go in the rubbish bin.

Including number 5 plastics in the kerbside collection service will not result in any direct increase in the recycling charge to Hastings ratepayers.

18 February 2022

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