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July 30, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Recycling at Vic: We Can Do Better

VUWSA has highlighted a number of problems with the Uni’s recycling processes. These include no compost bins, no recycling bin options in lecture theatres nor in some offices, and inconsistency between front of house and back of house colour sorting for bins.
As a result, we lose recyclable materials to the waste stream. Victoria University has four campuses, 200m^2 of buildings, and 25,000 people. As a community, Victoria consumes enough resources for a small town each day. In 2016, Victoria reported that 584,663 kgs of waste went to the landfill and 265,075 kgs of waste were diverted to recycling companies.
While Victoria’s website states that 35% of its waste is diverted from landfill to recycling, this percentage doesn’t take missorted and contaminated products into account. The Wellington City Council’s website notes that “any item that is collected and can’t be recycled is separated out and sent to landfill”.
Steph Forrest, Associate Director of Facilities Management of Victoria University, said the University is doing extensive work on its recycling practices, citing the trial of new recycling systems at Rutherford House as an example. “We are constantly looking at ways to improve what we do,” she said.
Salient hit the dumpsters to find out where Vic’s recycling goes. Here’s what we found.
Paper and glass goes to Auckland, cardboard goes to Tokoroa, and aluminum and steel cans are sent overseas to be recycled.
Plastic recycling is more complex. Grade 1 plastics (e.g. plastic bottles and clear containers) are recycled into food-grade packaging. “Excess” grade 1 is sent overseas to be made into carpets and polar fleece jerseys.
20% of Wellington’s grade 2-7 plastics go to Palmerston North, where they are recycled into bin liners or plastic feedstock (used to make more plastic). The remaining 80% is sent overseas.
WCC estimates that the city sent 578 tonnes of plastic to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand in 2017.
The Wellington City Council has asked the Government to implement the Local Government Waste Manifesto. According to WasteMINZ, the manifesto calls “Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage to make key changes, which will allow central and local government to work together effectively to achieve the government’s goal of minimising waste to landfill with significant reductions in all waste classes”.
The initiative comes after China’s announcement to reduce its waste and recycle imports, forcing countries like New Zealand to deal with their own waste.
The Wellington City Council website offers a recycling directory that instructs how to to recycle anything from cigarette packets to cat litter.

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