Week Five – Trip to recycling plant

Please note that this blog contains information on what can be recycled in Christchurch that is no longer accurate. Please see blog from Week 18 – Recycling Regroup for an explanation and clarification on what is able to be recycled through the kerbside collection service.

We are now over one month into our rubbish free year. So far we have 2 I-shaped clothing tag connectors and a couple of fruit stickers (as we forget sometimes that something as natural as fruit could be a source of possible rubbish). We also have a plastic petrol cap (hoping to rehome somehow) and those cigarette butts Matty found which we are unsure what to do with. Yesterday, while sanding the house to prep for painting the sander broke. We bought it a few years ago for $10 and now it’s come back at us. I will try and see if it can be repaired. If we weren’t rubbish free I know I would ditch it and go buy another one for $10. While its a pain I am glad to have this mentality challenged.

Because our challenge allows us to recycle it is crucial for us to know exactly what can and can’t be recycled, so when we were offered an opportunity to tour our local recycling plant, Meta Processing, we enthusiastically accepted. The plant receives, sorts and processes all material gathered from Christchurch’s kerbside recycling programme. My ‘discovery of the day’ was how to work out if plastic is recyclable with out the help of the numbers. We knew that Christchurch accepts supermarket bags (contained in their own bag) with paper recycling, but learned that we could also recycle clean bread bags, zip lock bags, shopping carry bags e.g. a Farmers carry bag, fruit and veg bags etc. Rod, the manager, said that if you are not sure try ripping it. If it is brittle and tears easy (e.g. biscuit packet) then its not OK, but if its stretchy and has a duller sound then chances are its recyclable. Now that we know we can buy bread (and bagels, torillas, naan…) and one use plastic carry bags we have to decide whether we will. Once we got over the enormity of changing a habit we actually have been enjoying baking our own bread. I was even enjoying failed, yet improving, attempts to roll out a perfect tortilla. So we have decided to keep going as we were; baking, using cloth bags and non plastic options. But its nice to know can if we need to.

I also took the opportunity to ask Rod about all the recycling rumours I’d heard, like that plastic from kerbside was taken and stockpiled in ever growing mountains and that plastic gets sold to China who burn it to fire power plants because it’s cheaper than coal! (from NZ Herald Green Pages a few weeks ago). Rod explained that everything that enters his plant is soled for a nice profit – no hidden mountains. He also knew what the plastics were transformed to, things like plastic packing crates and polar fleece, no burning. His plant only recycles plastic 1 and 2 which have legitimate market uses, but I am still not sure what happens to plastic 3 and up in other areas. (Anyone in the know got something to add here?). Thanks heaps to Rodney and Gay for their time and patience.

9 thoughts on “Week Five – Trip to recycling plant

  1. Well done for continuing to use bags and make your own bread etc. I guess we have to remember the first of the three ‘r’s is reduce then reuse then recycle!


  2. Hey! I didn’t know we could recycle other plastic bags, I’ve always just thrown them out (after maybe reusing them once or twice first). Thanks for this – I’ll be recycling my bread bags etc now. 🙂


  3. According to a friend who works in the fruit packing industry, the fruit stickers are edible. Not sure how appetizing they would be! Love what you are doing!

    Can anyone else back up this claim? I’d love to believe it.


  4. Yes it is true that the stickers are edible, so i guess you can compost them as well.

    Thats great, I keep forgetting about the stickers when buying fruit and have been saving them up for a homemade postcard but now they’ll go into the compost. Cheers. 🙂


  5. Hi there,

    Sorry about the double post on another page. Before you eat or compost the fruit stickers, google “edible fruit stickers” and skim read the first page of hits or so. Do the stickers have a plastic coating?




  6. If the stickers are yummy stickers you can print out a sheet from http://www.yummyfruit.co.nz and put the stickers there, then donate them to your local primary school when the sheet is full. The schools collect them and get sports equipment depending on how many stickers they have. Just a thought for you.


  7. Hi,

    Enjoying following your challenge, even if I’m a few months behind. Are you allowed to sell the fuel-cap, or give it to a carwrecker who will (eventually) resell it?


    Actually we were giving a talk a few months ago to a bunch of people interested in our challenge and one of them took the cap! I’ve forgotten what they said they were going to use it for but they seemed excited to get it.


  8. Well we all now know that the milk bottles collected is illegally shipped to China(refer Sunday programme 21/Sept 08), The conditions were appalling and our councils and government go along with this illegal practice. Transporting baled milk bottles contravenes the Basil Convention of which NZ and China are part of. WHY DO THEY NOT SUPPLY LOCAL FIRMS WHO ARE SCREAMING FOR THE MATERAIL.

    But it gets worse, we now know that used milk containers are being washed out in China to remove milk residue which is dried and added to milk to bolster protein levels as well as Melamine added.

    Also we know that all that plastic you throw out is being burnt in coal fired power stations , it is cheaper than coal and has a higher calorific value. The fact that it is full of toxins which end in the atmosphere does not matter.

    The export of plastic materail must be stopped NOW


  9. yes but are the plastic (they seem to be plastic ’cause you cant tear them) stickers edible (ie if eaten accidentally can they be digested)


Leave a Reply to Jenny Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s