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Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contians information about supporting Plastic-Free July and understanding what happens with plastic when recycled.

Updated: 12/07/2019 3:03 p.m.

​Recycling plastic

Types one and two

People often ask why Council collects only type one and two plastics for recycling. 

This is because these plastics still have a high value in the recycling world and are genuinely re-processed, whereas the other plastics are rejected. We send types one and two to Auckland where they are sorted and on-sold. 

Other plastics

We would rather dispose of the ones that can’t be recycled in a responsible way by sending them to our contained land fill. That way, while they are not recycled, they are prevented from being dumped into the wider environment. 

Plastic bags

Our roadside collection bags

There are pros and cons to each type of bag (non-biodegradable plastic bags, biodegradable plastic and paper), and Council is in a position of having to choose the best “bad option” when it comes to plastic bags for rubbish collection. 

Rubbish bags must be strong enough to contain the rubbish until it reaches the landfill, and must also have a long shelf life. Biodegradable or compostable bags are not strong enough and they don’t last long enough for these purposes.

Paper versus plastic bags

Various studies have found paper bags and compostable bags to have a larger environmental impact than normal plastic bags when their entire lifespan is considered. 

The manufacturing processes for polyethylene grocery bags use less fuel, less oil, and less potable water than recycled fibre paper bags. When polyethylene bags are disposed of they emit fewer global warming gases, less acid rain emissions, and less solid waste than paper bags.

Compostable bags

The same trend exists when comparing the typical polyethylene grocery bag to grocery bags made with compostable plastic resins. Traditional plastic grocery bags use less energy in terms of fuels for manufacturing, less oil, and less potable water, and emit fewer global warming gases, less acid rain emissions, and less solid waste.

Compostable bags are useful for food waste that is composted, or when a bag is not likely to end up contained in a landfill.