Did You Know

For every one tonne of aluminium recycled: 13,300 kWh of electricity is saved 95% less air pollution is produced 4 tonnes of chemical product are conserved 5-8 tonnes of bauxite Turning old cans into new cans saves 95% of the energy needed to make cans from ore. One recycled aluminium can saves enough electricity to run a computer or a TV for three hours. Most of the bauxite ore used to make aluminium cans is mined in the tropics including tropical forests. Recycling aluminium helps save tropical forests.

Plastic Recycling:

A tonne of PET plastic containers made with recycled plastic conserves about 7,200 kWh of electricity. Five 2-litre PET bottles makes enough fibrefill for one jacket.


"About 94% of the materials extracted for use in manufacturing durable products become waste before the product is manufactured...80% of what we make is thrown away within six months of production." [Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Little Brown Company, 1999] Landfills are ranked as the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (after fossil fuel combustion). [Recycling...for the future: Consider the benefits, prepared by the White House Task Force on Recycling {Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Environmental Executive}, 1998.]

Nine tonnes of waste are generated to create a 2.3 kg laptop computer. [Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Little Brown Company, 1999, p. 50.] For every rubbish bag placed at the kerb, the equivalent of 71 rubbish bags worth of waste is created in mining, logging, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and the industrial processes used to convert raw materials into finished products and packaging. This doesn't even include the extra energy usage and climate change impacts resulting from resource extraction and processing. Two quarts of gasoline and a thousand quarts of water are required to produce a quart of Florida orange juice [Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Little Brown Company, 1999]

Did you know that:

It takes 7 gallons of crude oil to produce one car tyre 75% of a tree harvested for paper does not wind up as a paper product Toothbrushes represent over 100 million pounds of plastic waste each year 27% of the food produced for human consumption in the US is thrown out as waste Total contruction waste from an average 2,000 sq. ft. home adds up to about 8,000 lbs., taking up 50 cu. yds. of space Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates 1 job, landfilling it creates 6 jobs, and recycling it creates 36 jobs Facts from www.oregonmetro.gov

Energy Savings:

The Percentage of energy saved by using recycled instead of raw materials to manufacture: Glass 40% Newspaper 40% Steel 60% Plastic 70% Aluminium 95% (75% when recycled back into aluminium beverage cans) [Natural Resources Defence Council, Aluminium Association.]

Plastics Waste:

There are 5 main options to handle plastic waste material:


Energy Recovery



Composting Recycling


There are two types of plastics that are recycled:

Pre consumer Waste This is scrap material from the manufacturing process. Over 90% of manufacturing scrap in New Zealand is recycled back into the plastics process. Some NZ manufacturing companies have virtually eliminated their waste stream.

Post consumer Waste This is waste plastic material after it has been used by the final consumer.

Energy Recovery Recycling can exist at two different levels:

Physical Recycling This is a physical process where the used plastics are treated with heating and pressure to convert them into new plastic products (Most recycling in New Zealand is physical, because there is insufficient plastic material in New Zealand to justify the capital expense of setting up a chemical recycling plant).

Chemical Recycling This is sometimes called feedstock recycling - and involves chemical processes to release the chemicals locked up inside the plastics.

There are 4 main methods used.

Pyrolysis . Plastics waste is heated in a vacuum producing a mixture of gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons not unlike petroleum.

Hydrogenation. Plastics waste is heated with Hydrogen, This "cracks" the polymers into a liquid hydrocarbon.

Gasification. Plastics waste is heated in air producing a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases. These are used to produce new raw materials such as methanol, which can also be used as a fuel.

Chemolysis. Individual plastics are chemically treated, or depolymerised, and turned back into monomers.

Minimising plastic waste:

At least 50% of plastic packaging sent to New Zealand landfills is imported (Pac NZ, 2002). In-house recycling of plastic by manufacturers, where off cuts and production waste is reground and reused in the same or similar products; ensured 17,725 tonnes of plastics were reused in 2010 by the NZ plastics industry (PNZ Mass Balance Survey 2010). Plastic waste from manufacture in New Zealand makes up only 1% of material used (PNZ, 2010).


Each New Zealander consumes approximately 36 kg of plastic packaging per year and recycles 8.64kg (Packaging Accord). 97% of New Zealanders have access to household or community recycling (MfE). Plastic recycling has more than doubled over the last 5 years (Packaging Accord). In 2005 New Zealanders recycled 39,100 tonnes of plastic (Environment NZ 2007 report). 25-30% of PET (1) and HDPE (2) packaging produced in NZ are recovered (PNZ, 2002). Our plastic packaging recycling rate (24%) compares with a European average of 26%* *http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu