Green update: NZ Life & Leisure’s environmental footprint

Many readers have been showing interest in the environmental footprint of NZ Life & Leisure. We are focused on improving our sustainability, but like many businesses, there are some areas in which we are doing well and others where we face challenges.

NZ Life & Leisure is printed on paper from sustainably grown forests using soy-based inks. The magazine is 100 per cent recyclable and compostable. Our most significant environmental challenge is with subscriber copies, which need a waterproof wrapping to protect them from rain. Currently, subscriber copies are wrapped in soft plastic, which is recyclable via the Love NZ Soft-Plastic Recycling Bins.

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The soft-plastic recycling scheme was launched in 2015 but was suspended in 2018 when China stopped accepting foreign plastic and New Zealand recycling centres became inundated. The Love NZ Soft Plastic scheme returned this year but is currently only available in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington. Soft Plastic NZ is focused on identifying and supporting more sustainable options so that a national collection system can be re-established. Some soft-plastic recycling initiatives in New Zealand include FuturePost, a fencing product, and Second Life, a company producing recycled ducting.

We are still searching for suitable alternatives to soft plastic in which to wrap our magazines. Paper or card envelopes are unsuitable as they are not waterproof and would require manual handling and incur time delays getting our magazines out. NZ Life & Leisure is working with the magazine-publishing industry to test a home-compostable plastic. Compostable plastics are made from corn starch or other plant polymers (bioplastic), which are of varying quality and durability. Our soft plastic must come on a roll for our mail- bagging machines. A home-compostable wrap in roll form has only recently become available here. The magazine industry group is testing its feasibility, with an application currently before the Waste Minimization Fund for an industry pilot. Any compostable wrap has to pass NZ Post testing as postage rates are dependent on the outcome of these tests. Another issue we are investigating is the biodegradability of home-compostable plastic. Please be assured that finding a solution to magazine soft wrap is important to us, and we’re working hard to find the best one. We will keep you informed of our progress.

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