Recycling changes to plastic

Recycling plastics 1 and 2 only

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Recycling plastics 1 and 2 only

Due to significant changes to the global recycling market, plastics grades 3 to 7 are no longer accepted at the kerbside recycling or at transfer stations. 

You can only recycle grades 1 and 2 plastic - this is milk bottles, drink bottles and detergent bottles.

Grades 3 to 7 plastics that are not accepted include items such as ice cream containers, yoghurt pots and takeaway containers.

The plastic category number can be found in the recycling symbol on the bottom or side of plastic containers.

Is there any point recycling?

Yes absolutely we encourage you to keep recycling.
There’s a market for everything we still collect and these are recycled, not land filled.
Refuse, reduce or reuse – that's the focus. Buying products without packaging is by far  the best option, as it generates no waste.

Why can’t grades 3 to 7 plastics be recycled?

Because there's nowhere to send it.
The international market for certain recycled materials has collapsed because China’s no longer accepting the range of materials it once did. This is good news for China as it means they’re committing to cleaning up their environment. However, it means the rest of the world needs to make significant changes around waste minimisation.

Where will grades 3 to 7 plastics go?

New Zealand has no local processing of grades 3 to 7 plastics. Unfortunately, they must go to landfill as there’s no sustainable or viable market for them.
We encourage you to buy products with no packaging or recyclable packaging.

What are other councils doing?

Several have already stopped collecting these types of plastics in their kerbside recycling and others are following soon. Together with all the other councils we’re working with the government on waste management, here’s more information on the Wasteminz website(external link)

Why do we have to wash plastics?

Recycling a product that’s contaminated with food will be rejected.  
It’s a wasted opportunity if a product that can be recycled goes to landfill. Please remove all food residue and keep it clean to avoid it going to landfill.

Why do we have to take the lids off?

While plastic grades 1 and 2 can be recycled, often the lids on these products are grade 5 which can't be. The same applies for some glass jar lids. This is why all lids need to be removed and put in with your rubbish.

What do we do with plastics that don’t have a number?

If it doesn’t have a number, it can’t be recycled.
It’s the same for plastic products that have the small recycling triangle with no number.

What will happen to any non-recyclable items that are in our recycling bins?

The contractor will leave those items in your bin.

Will our rates be discounted?

No, because it costs more to send rubbish to landfill than it does to recycle.
If anything, the cost of waste disposal will increase for ratepayers if you don’t try to reduce your household waste.

Will we get more rubbish stickers?

We encourage waste minimisation so we won't increase the current rubbish sticker allocation of one sticker per week.

What does this mean for the city and rural transfer stations?

Grades 3 – 7 plastics will not be accepted at transfer stations.
It will need to go in the rubbish.

What is Council doing to find a long-term solution?

Change requires a collaborative approach involving councils, producers, brand owners and the community, with central government as the key enabler.

Last year we supported the Local Government Waste Manifesto as a remit at the LGNZ conference. They're calling on the minister for the environment to make key changes that will allow central and local government to work together to minimise waste to landfill and significant reductions in all waste classes.

How can we make a difference to reduce our household waste?

  • Grow your own.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Make it from scratch - for example to avoid buying non-recyclable pots of yoghurt, make your own homemade yoghurt.
  • Make simple switches for products that come in no packaging or recyclable packaging.
  • Reuse glass or plastic containers.
  • Mend and repair clothing and household items.
  • Swap food and household items with families and friends.

There are many ways you can have a huge impact on how much waste you generate. It starts with being intentional and conscious with what you buy and consume.

What is product stewardship?

When a producer, brand owner, importer or retailer accepts responsibility for reducing a product’s environmental impact, this is product stewardship.
This means ensuring manufactured products or packaging takes on a life in some new way when they’re no longer needed.