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Plastic Free July: How WM New Zealand is Powering the Circular Economy

Plastic Free July is a global movement that inspires millions to be part of the solution to plastic pollution, creating cleaner streets, oceans, and communities.

As Aotearoa’s leading materials recovery, recycling, and waste management provider, WM New Zealand is proud to support this initiative. Let's explore the various ways we're contributing to a circular economy and promoting sustainability.

Each year, WM New Zealand collects an average of 1,000,000 tonnes of waste and recycles well over 200,000 tonnes. We are the largest composter in the country, the leading waste-to-energy provider, and boast the largest commercial electric fleet, all powered by electricity generated from waste. With over 1800 team members across 80 locations, we're constantly seeking innovative ways to manage waste sustainably.

Circular Services: Driving Sustainable Solutions

In 2023, we launched a new division focused on circularity, aptly named Circular Services. This division integrates our compost brand, Living Earth, with our materials recovery facilities and recycling processing plants. A significant milestone in our journey was forming Plastics Recycling New Zealand (PRNZ), a joint venture with the Aliaxis Group.

This partnership aims to provide enhanced plastic recycling solutions for the building and construction industry. Additionally, we acquired the Comspec plastic processing plant in the South Island to expand our capabilities further.

One of our proudest achievements is the rollout of reusable containers for sharps disposal systems in hospitals and health facilities nationwide. This initiative has saved over 60 tonnes of single-use plastic, equivalent to 11,424,056 plastic shopping bags.

The reusable containers are collected, cleaned, sterilised, and redistributed, significantly reducing plastic waste and supporting the sustainability efforts of healthcare providers.

Eastern Waikato Rollout of Services

Our commitment to sustainability is evident in our efforts in the Eastern Waikato region. We rolled out new services for Thames Coromandel District Council, Hauraki District Council, and Matamata-Piako District Council, replacing single-use plastic bags with red-lidded wheelie bins for rubbish collection.

This transition reduces reliance on plastic and prevents bags from being torn open by animals or birds. Additionally, household food waste is now collected in green-lidded bins and transformed into nutrient-rich compost at the Tirohia Energy Park facility.

Te Taniwha o te Kai Kirihou: The Plastic Eating Monster

Dealing with large plastic items like wheelie bins and drums has always been challenging. To address this, we invested in specialised equipment at our Tauranga base. This innovative machine processes large plastic items without the need for pre-cutting, turning them into 40mm plastic chips that can be recycled into new products.

It can produce up to 900 kilograms of plastic chips in an hour. The chips are then turned into recycled resin by plastics manufactures to make new products.

Investment in Plastic Recycling

We're excited to announce a $12.5 million investment into plastic recycling solutions for the building and construction industry. In partnership with Aliaxis NZ and the Ministry for the Environment, we are establishing new recycling facilities and collection services for HDPE and PVC plastics.

The first stage involves a new recycling plant at our Building & Construction Resource Recovery Centre in Auckland. This initiative aims to provide circular solutions for plastic waste, reducing the 40% of construction waste currently sent to landfills.

Soft Plastic Recycling in Dunedin

After a brief hiatus, soft plastic recycling has resumed in Dunedin. Our transfer station, in collaboration with Packaging Forum, collects and recycles soft plastics into fence posts for farms and wineries. This initiative has been met with high demand, and we’re proud to support our customers and promote the circular economy within the city.

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