Otago ahead of the game with waste-collection initiatives

Made the switch to plant-based milk but concerned the carton can’t be recycled? Now it can!

Eight drop-off services are now dispersed across the Dunedin region from Milton to Flag Swamp. They are on a mission to make recycling an accessible option for all locals, particularly for those purchasing liquid paperboard cartons such as beverage cartons, used for products like milk and juice – packaging that is unable to be recycled by the current Dunedin rubbish collection. 

Zero-waste and waste minimisation group OneCoast have teamed up with upcycling company saveBOARD with a collective mission to ensure not a single milk or juice carton goes to landfill.

OneCoast Community Facilitator Leisa de Klerk said she’s seen a large increase in individual cartons that have been dropped off over the past few months, showing the enthusiasm for recycling from the community. 

“Local cafes have seen an influx in requests for plant-based milk, the demand and need for an accessible recycling option that will dispose of these cartons was essential,” said Leisa.

“Over the past three months we have received around 10,000 cartons, compared to only 3,000 in May, it has jumped a lot,” she said. “The community are really getting in behind the scheme which is great.”

Leisa said recycling options in the region are limited and a scheme was needed to reduce waste to landfill, particularly in the South.  

Surrounded by a state highway and only 30 minutes out of Dunedin, the OneCoast initiative is providing collection points all over the city and Clutha to reduce recycling barriers.

“We don’t have cafes that drop to us, it is solely reliant on the public, which shows their passion for recycling as they’re willing to go out of their way to do the right thing,” said Leisa.

Leisa said the Dunedin community are committed to recycling, where she sees over 1,000 families every month dropping off their goods. “For a standard household of four people over the 1000 families, it equates to approximately 12 banana boxes per week,” she said.

With the Government’s Container Return Scheme (CRS) in the pipelines, Leisa says it’s something that will help fill the gap in the community. “If we’re not needed when the CRS is implemented, then that is a positive result.”

The recycled items are then couriered to saveBOARD’s manufacturing plant in Hamilton where the waste is turned into sustainable building material.

Leisa says next time Dunedin citizens purchase their oat-milk or favourite juice from the local supermarket, they have an option to ensure it doesn’t end up in landfill.

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