The Recycling Market and International Situation

Recycling markets (where we send our recyclables after collecting them) are currently in turmoil. Until recently, China received much of the world’s recycling. In attempts to clean up their environment, the Chinese government  enacted legislation to severely limit the recyclables that can be imported. This has led to a huge knock-on effect around the world. The value of recyclable materials have plummeted, and some materials are nearly impossible to send anywhere for recycling.

In Selwyn, recyclables are sent to EcoSort in Christchurch, along with recyclables from most other Canterbury Councils. Despite media and individuals stating that recycling gets dumped, we are still in the fortunate position (as at January 2020) to be able to move and recycle all correct and acceptable recyclables collected. This could, however, change at any moment.

While the media focus is on plastic, there is also major concern that cardboard and paper markets will fall further or even fail entirely. Cardboard and paper make up a significant component of the household recycling stream.

Where is it all heading?

Strong efforts are underway to develop onshore (within NZ) recycling options for materials. We already have options to recycle clear grade 1 plastic within New Zealand.

It is likely that in the future only grades 1, 2 and 5 plastics will be accepted.

Strong pressure will start to be applied to companies using plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 in their packaging to switch to clear grade 1, 2 or 5 plastic.

Hopefully a product stewardship scheme will come into force in the future, ensuring a level playing field for all manufacturers to do the right thing with their packaging.

What can you do to help?

Try to buy products made from clear (not coloured) grade 1, 2 or 5 plastics.

Contact companies of products you buy that are not in grade 1, 2 or 5 clear plastic, and ask them to switch. For example Coca Cola New Zealand is switching their green sprite bottles to clear plastic – these types of changes make an enormous difference!

Make sure what you put in your recycling bin is only what is accepted + keep the lids off and make sure it is clean and empty!

Don’t wish-cycle – putting things in your recycling bin hoping that they can be recycled!

Get a no junk mail sticker for your letterbox and reduce waste that way!

Go reusable and refillable where you can!

We are intending to update this page with developments and with useful links to follow.