Recycling in New Zealand
Have you ever stood staring at that plastic container wondering if it can be recycled and then panicking once you put it in the recycling bin may have just contaminated a whole bin by putting the wrong one in? Probably not to that extent – I need to get a grip but I have to admit I keep getting conflicting information as to what can and cannot be recycled so I have included below some information from our friends at council.
But don’t forget that recycling isn’t just done in our bins. There are plenty of other ways we can minimize what we put in our landfills.
Food scraps can be composted to use in the garden. Really easy to do – even I can manage it – and the kids love it, especially all the worms.
Preloved clothing, furniture & toys can be donated to charities or second hand shops.
Refuse plastic bags and bring your own.
Choose products that are packaged in a way that can be recycled, Chelsea sugar have brought out old fashioned paper sugar bags, Ansell have started making natural rubber latex gloves and more and more companies are using recyclable/biodegradable packaging like good old card or glass.
So let’s support these businesses that are implementing environmentally responsible practices and making positive change.
The below is a guideline for recycling in Auckland but each council will have details on their website.
What can be recycled in the Auckland area
|Glass bottles/jars and their
Please ensure that items are cleaned. Lids are to be left on except for on Great Barrier Island where the lids need to go in your rubbish bag.
Please note: broken glass bottles and jars can be placed directly into your blue-lidded recycling wheelie bin. However, if you have a bag for your recycling collection, broken glass must be wrapped in paper and placed in your rubbish bag to prevent injury
|Tin, steel and aluminium cans only (incl empty aerosols) - rinsed, squashed and with can lids safely inside|
|Plastic bottles and
containers, and their lids (grades one to seven from the kitchen, bathroom
and laundry only), excluding
bottles that may have been contaminated with oil, fuel, weed killers, etc, or
are larger than 4 litres capacity.
Please keep the lids on, except for on Great Barrier Island where the lids need to go in your rubbish bag, rinse and squash container.
The grade is indicated inside the recycling symbol (triangle) on the item. Examples of bottles/containers in each grade are:
1 - soft drink bottles
2 - milk, cream and detergent bottles
3 - food and cleaning material bottles
4 - flexible squeeze bottles
5 - ice cream, yoghurt, margarine and chinese takeaway containers, strawberry punnets
6 - shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser bottles, dip containers
7 - squeezable tomato sauce containers
All cardboard and paper (including window envelopes and Tetra Pak cartons eg. juice and milk cartons, except for on Great Barrier Island) except those items listed under What can't be recycled
|Pizza Boxes & egg cartons
Except for on Great Barrier Island where they should be bundled or bagged and put out next to your crate.
Ensure that you remove all leftover food from the pizza boxes first
What can't be recycled
- these types of glass all contain other materials that make them unsuitable
Plastics - the following cannot be recycled:
Aluminium or tin
Shredded paper can not be put out for recycling as it will clog the machines at the Materials Recycling Facility. Household quantities of shredded paper can be used in the garden compost as a mulch. Businesses with large quantities will need to contact a private collector.
Plastic bags are not recyclable through the council kerbside recycling collection.
Plastic bags can clog the machinery at the recycling facility and cause equipment failures. If an entire load is contaminated with plastic bags it will go to landfill rather than be recycled.
Plastic shopping bags are a problem in our environment for a number of reasons:
- they can take up to 1,000 years to break down. As plastic bags are lightweight and moisture resistant, they can also travel long distances and cause environmental problems in many places over time
- plastic shopping bags end up as litter in our environment each year which can block drains, trap birds and kill marine life. These bags end up as waste on our beaches, streets and parks. When a plastic bag enters the ocean it becomes a harmful piece of litter. Many marine animals and birds mistake plastic bags for food and swallow them, with painful and often fatal consequences. Bags also end up in stormwater drains where they can cause blockages
- the over-consumption of plastic bags is an unnecessary use of resources, such as energy and materials.
New Zealand uses approximately one billion plastic bags per year. Try to minimise your use of plastic bags by taking reusable bags with you when you go shopping.
Some supermarkets and Warehouses offer drop-off programmes that allow customers to return their plastic bags to be recycled. Check with retailers to see whether they offer this programme. Alternatively you can dispose of them with your household rubbish.
This table shows the types of plastic indicated by the different numbers and how they are used. Makes for interesting reading!
|Symbol||Type of plastic||Typical container types ....||Recycled as ....|
|Soft drink bottles||Pillow and sleeping bag filling, clothing, soft drink bottles, carpet|
High Density Polyethylene
|Milk, cream and detergent bottles||Recycling bins, compost bins, buckets, detergent containers, posts, fencing, pipes|
Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride PVC-U
Plasticised Polyvinyl Chloride PVC-P
|Food and cleaning material bottles||Flooring, film and sheets, cables, speed bumps, packaging, binders, mud flaps and mats|
Low density Polyethylene
|Flexible squeeze bottles||Rubbish bin liners, pallet sheets|
|Icecream, yoghurt, margarine and chinese takeaway containers, strawberry punnets||Pegs, bins, pipes, pallet sheets, oil funnels, car battery cases, trays|
conditioner and moisturiser bottles, and dip containers
Please note: this does not include the white block material used for packaging
|Coat hangers, coasters, white ware components, stationary trays and accessories|
Letters indicate ISO code for plastic type eg SAN, ABS, PC, Nylon
|Squeezable sauce containers||Car parts, concrete aggregate, plastic timber|
Recycling Other Items
We were wondering if maybe there were other items that can be recycled through different avenues, so we did some research. So many things in our households are sent to landfill when in fact there are things that you may be surprised to find you can recycle instead. According to recycle.co.nz us kiwis send 2.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year and three-quarters of this could be diverted by reusing, recycling or composting. That is a staggering amount! Things like e-waste are growing at an alarming rate and often contain toxic heavy metals. 40,000 car seats expire each year in New Zealand and these are often sent to landfill when 90% of a typical seat is recyclable.
We have compiled a list below of some of the things we have found but, this list is not exhaustive so if you know of anything else then please let us know!
Please note: Due to the overwhelming popularity of this initiative it is currently on hiatus.
Free recycling program
|Century Batteries offer free car battery recycling.|
|Scrap Metal Dealers|
Trade scrap for cash
|They take metal such as Stainless, Aluminum, Batteries, Copper, Steel, Brass, Cable, Lead, Cellphones, Computer Scrap as well as residential items such as:|
|The Compost Collective||Fantastic website that informs people on composting. They also have a ShareWaste initiative in which you can either find a local compost bin to donate your scraps to or sign up to start receiving scraps for your own.|
Some items free, others incur a small charge
Free pick up service within 10km of Auckland
Central city drop off point
Palmerston North City Council
Some items free, others incur a small charge
$25 per seat
Baby on the Move
Drop-off point for Smart Seat
$25 per seat
|Car seat recycling|
Drop off points available
|Mobile phone recycling. Drop off points:|