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The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the Packaging Forum have formed a new trans-Tasman partnership to ensure more soft plastics are collected and recycled, keeping them out of landfill.

The new partnership will see the Packaging Forum’s Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme recognised as an approved alternative destination under APCO’s Australasian Recycling Label Program.

To be approved as an alternative destination, programs must meet a set of criteria to confirm the accessibility, recycling outcomes, and scope of the program.

The partnership will mean businesses distributing soft plastic packaging in the New Zealand market no longer have to label their soft plastics as “not recyclable”. The new partnership will help businesses to provide accurate and clear recycling information to the customers and help consumers to correctly recycle their soft plastic packaging.

The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is membership-based program that provides retail collection points across Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Northland, Taranaki, Waikato, and Wellington to collect and recycle a range of soft plastic products, including bread bags, produce and frozen food bags, courier backs, bubble wrap and cereal bags. The materials are processed onshore by North Island plants, Future Post, and Second Life Plastics into durable plastic products including posts, parking stops, cable covers and garden edging.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnely said research consistently shows that soft plastics are one of the most problematic contaminants in the waste stream and are in issue that needs to be dealt with to improve recovery rates for the region.

“We are delighted to officially partner with The Packaging Forum’s Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme to provide our ARL Program Members with an approved, reliable end of life solution for their soft plastics,” she said.

“We encourage all businesses selling consumer soft plastic packaging in New Zealand to join the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme and provide an evidence-based recovery option on the packaging you place on market.”

Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme manager Lyn Mayes said the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is 100 per cent funded by members.

“We have close to 100 scheme members, many of which operate trans-Tasman and this partnership with APCO will allow them to adopt consistent labelling for their soft plastic packaging in both countries,” she said.

Nestlé Oceania head of corporate and external relations Margaret Stuart said, “It’s critical we have clear on-pack communications that helps people know which bin to put the pack in. With so many businesses in New Zealand and Australia making products for sale in both countries, this partnership will help keep our on-pack messaging simple and clear, so people understand how to recycle their soft plastics.”

Goodman Fielder group sustainability manager Mick Anderson said his company is passionate about improving recycling rates of soft plastic packaging.

“Building consumer awareness through consistent on-pack labelling is an important part of achieving our vision of a circular economy for plastic,” he said.

“We have adopted the ARL and REDcycle logo on packaging in Australia and look forward to rolling out across our NZ loaf bread range, including Nature's Fresh and Freya's, in early 2021.”

For more information about the Packaging Forum’s Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme visit www.recycling.kiwi.nz/.

For more information about the ARL Program, visit apco.org.au/the-australasian-recycling-label.

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