Recycle plastic bags in the Yellow Bin

You can recycle soft plastics (and plastic bags) through the Council yellow recycling bin. This makes us quite unique, as many areas in NZ cannot offer this service.

Kitchen draw overflowing with plastic bags
Is your kitchen draw overflowing with plastic bags?
Recycle them in your yellow bin.

The term "soft plastics" includes:

  • plastic shopping bags
  • supermarket bags
  • department store bags
  • frozen veggie bags
  • plastic sacks
  • courier bags and envelopes
  • fresh produce bags
  • toilet paper packaging
  • pasta and rice bags
  • basically anything plastic that can be scrunched up into a ball.

Plastic pollution is major problem in New Zealand, with plastic filling up landfills and contaminating the oceans.  Plastic bags if littered may find their way onto streets and waterways and green spaces. Once in the environment, plastic bags can be ingested by animals such as turtles and seabirds.  Other animals or birds can get entangled in plastic bags and as a result may drown or be unable to fly.

There has been great progress in the issue of plastic bags in New Zealand. Several soft plastic collection schemes are operating in NZ, and recently both Countdown and New World announced that they will phase out single-use plastic bags altogether. Foodstuffs New Zealand announced “New World is aiming to be single-use plastic bag free by the end of 2018." Countdown is taking a similar stance and has declared that single-use plastic carrier bags will be phased-out from its stores and online shopping by the end of 2018. 

These schemes essential steps towards reducing the vast amount of plastic bags used in New Zealand each year - estimated at 1.6 billion bags or almost one per person, per day. However plastic bags will still be a part of our lives, up until the bans take place, and from other retailers who are not a part of the ban.

Many councils do not accept soft plastics as they do not have a sustainable market for the product.  Fortunately for Southlanders the answer is easy. WasteNet Southland and Southland disAbility Enterprises operate a soft plastic recycling scheme. It’s as simple as putting your plastic shopping bags and other soft plastics into your yellow bin along with all your other recyclable material.  If you don't have a Council recycling bin, you can still recycle at your local recycle drop-off centre or transfer station.

The best way to tackle this issue long-term is to ditch using plastic bags altogether. Reusable cloth bags are cheap and easily available. Keep them at home, in your car and at work so that you are never caught short, and soon you will be wondering why you ever needed plastic bags in the first place.