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.