New Zealand has a global reputation for being a ‘clean and green’ country that’s serious about sustainability. It’s easy to see why, with its 2019 ban on single-use plastic bags and the government’s commitment to fighting climate change. Many Kiwis are joining millions around the world to tackle plastic pollution in Plastic Free July. Since we're halfway through the month, keep reading to find out how New Zealand’s doing and what we can be doing more of.
While the country’s done a great job with phasing out single-use plastic bags, New Zealand has some work to do when it comes to recyclable packaging. A recent study reviewed nine countries and the way they recycle packaging for certain products. New Zealand placed second to last because around 57% of packaging was not easily recyclable. That means 57% more packaging is ending up in landfills. The study found that 5 products were especially difficult for Kiwis to recycle, and 3 of those products were made of soft plastic. According to an industry group called the Packaging Forum, New Zealanders used nearly 5000 tonnes of soft plastics in 2020. The Packaging Forum claims that only 700 tonnes of that soft plastic can be recycled over the next year.
According to Consumer NZ, New Zealand is struggling with recycling partly because labels are confusing, and some packaging consists of a mix of materials. These materials are difficult to separate and make the recycling process confusing. For example, a can of Pringles is made of cardboard, plastic, foil, and aluminium, all of which need to be separated and sorted for recycling.
It’s clear there’s room for improvement, so, what can we do about this issue? Initiatives such as the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme provide an easier way for people to recycle soft plastics. The scheme has provided bins for people to drop their plastic packaging into. The containers are called Love NZ Soft Plastics Recycling and are located outside supermarkets around the country.
Another action consumers can take is to call on companies and manufacturers to use more sustainable packaging and clearer labels. Many people are currently doing this for Plastic Free July, particularly for packaging in the beauty industry, since it produces over 100 billion units of packaging each year. More and more people are choosing beauty products made from recyclable materials such as glass and aluminium. Consumer NZ also recommends that people choose products with packaging that is completely recyclable and/or products with packaging made from recycled materials.
Free Curls is completely committed to caring for the environment. We are deliberate about reducing our carbon footprint and making sustainable choices. That’s why we chose to use fully recyclable packaging. Our packaging is made from aluminium which is an easily recyclable material. We also have a recycling program. We invite our customers to send their empty or dented bottles to us using free courier postage available in New Zealand. We sterilise, reuse, or recycle these bottles so they don’t end up in our landfills or oceans.