Wellington students highlight global problem with failed soft plastic recycling bid

A school social justice project at Wellington's Samuel Marsden Collegiate School has highlighted a global problem.

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After a series of rejections, these Samuel Marsden Collegiate students took their request for a soft plastic recycling bin all the way to the top. Source: Fair Go

Year 12 students Ella Jago and Kate Davies wanted to have a soft plastic recycling bin in their school.

"I thought it would be easy. I thought we would just call a company and get a bin," says Ella.

The first contractor deflected their inquiry.

"They said it was a very busy time for them and could we email them, we did and they never replied."

The second quoted $200 per bin which was well outside their budget. They tried other schools, the local council, then the Ministry of Education.

"They said there wasn't much they could do about it," says Ella.

They couldn't find anyone to take their soft plastic.

"We were quite disappointed that we weren't able to achieve our goal," said Ella.

Supermarkets do have soft plastic recycling, except getting someone to drive their plastic there was going to be a problem. The bigger problem though was soft plastic recycling isn’t being recycled currently.

The inconvenient truth is China and Australia aren't taking our recycling anymore so industry is scrambling to get soft plastic off the ground in New Zealand.

Ella and Kate sent one final letter to Fair Go, who organised a trip to meet Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, who told the girls currently soft plastic recycling was being held in storage till a recycling solution was found.

"You are challenging us to do better," Ms Sage told the girls.

"I think we need better recycling and waste management at schools generally."

The girls asked the Minister why soft plastic recycling bins weren’t in schools and she replied: "For them to be in schools it would require either schools or councils to help fund them."

The girls said their project while unsuccessful, did raise awareness and they haven't given up just yet.

"We've done quite a lot but we still don't have the right outcome."