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Crucial council report due on city’s recycling future

Dec 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

WITH world markets for recycled rubbish collapsing, Wellington City Council will receive a crucial report next week about the city’s recycling options.

Whether the council should continue with its blue bins operation or try something different has been investigated by city operations manager Mike Mendonca, who will present his findings to a council meeting on Wednesday.

Wellington’s recycling material is picked up from the kerbside and sent to Allbrite in Seaview, where it is sorted and 95% sold overseas.

Picture: One of Allbrite’s fleet of recycling trucks

However, market fluctuations in the recycling commodity market have been amplified in the last week, says Mr Mendonca.

The Press newspaper reported this week that prices have dropped so dramatically containers on docks in Asian cities are being left abandoned, and New Zealand exporters have cancelled shipments to Asia, preferring to stockpile the material.

Mr Mendonca says the first question he asked in his report is why we recycle.

“Our challenges – not just for Wellington but all of New Zealand – are [that] people think when they are recycling they’re doing the right thing, and it’s not necessarily so.

“We are looking to come up with a recycling option that gives the best balance between all these competing pressures.”

Kapiti plastics recycling manufacturer John Cribb has expressed disappointment that local manufacturing is not supported by the region’s councils and their recycling schemes.

He says since the market in China collapsed, he has been getting calls from people asking him if he wants plastic.

But he is concerned about what would happen to these new supplies when the Chinese market comes back up.

There is no capability in New Zealand for recycling PET plastic (eg plastic drink bottles), but he said it is just a matter of [someone] making the investment in plant.

Vogeltown resident and Transition Towns member Anne Simpson says people have to recycle as much as possible because the world is using up resources at an unsustainable rate.

“Costs of extraction, processing, manufacture, etc, of new ‘stuff’ uses more energy than recycling. Getting rid of ‘stuff’ also uses energy and can contaminate ground and water which would be better used for other things.”

She says to make sense, any recycling should be done as near to home as
possible.

“It is illogical and wrong to send stuff to Asia which could be dealt with (and provide jobs and foundation for new industries) in New Zealand. Makes it all seem a bit silly really – using all that fuel to transport our rubbish.”

Hutt City Council environmental sustainability officer Symond Ross says NZ imports more from China than the country exports to them, so recycling materials are filling up ships that would be going back empty.

He says there is not enough local processing capacity to deal with the volume of recycling created.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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  1. […] due this week, it has been delayed because of recent developments in the recycling […]

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