There are 98 composting facilities across New Zealand. These plants usually collect organic waste from businesses that deal with food or beverages and can often take yard waste from nurseries or landscaping companies. What a 2017 survey found out was that amongst the 27 composting facilities included, many of them were having trouble dealing with processing food packaging. Some of the issues included confusion with oil-based polyethylene coated cups and other conventional plastics, length of processing time, the need for items to be shredded finely and the issue of some brands packaging not breaking down. This has led to them needing to adapt their processes while some have simply stopped processing this waste. There are currently 10 commercial composting facilities accepting compostable packaging and food service ware.
Recycling in New Zealand can be done through various means and if done properly 140,000 tons of waste can avoid landfill in Auckland alone. Curbside recycling is the easiest option for domestic waste as it is collected from your house and sorted into separate types of materials. What you are able to recycle is dependent on what facilities your council has available. Check your local council’s website for more information. At a commercial level Reclaim can collect paper, board, plastic and glass from businesses. They sort them and then have the products recycled either locally or internationally. Visy recycling, Green Gorilla, Envirowaste and Waste Management are other major operators that collect and sort waste.
Many people believe that items will eventually breakdown if they are left out in the weather for a long enough time. When rubbish is out of sight it is often no longer deemed as a problem for the public. But your items could be going to landfill where a variety of materials are left to breakdown. Even if your biodegradable or compostable items make it here they will most likely not have the right environment to break down. The extent to which a biodegradable or compostable item will break down is reliant on the amount of air, water and microbial activity.