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how are you recycling?

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

A brief look into recycling in New Zealand and some handy examples to start making a difference through recycling at home or within your communities.



Recycling has always been a part of life, as nature does so within its own life-cycle. Now that we have created more than nature is capable of handling, recycling has become a necessity for our modern world. We use so many different plastics in our day-to-day lives and constantly see the devastating effects of plastic discernment worldwide.


Reducing the amount of plastic you buy can seem expensive and feel like a daunting task. However, taking a bit of time to double check what items are and are not recyclable can make all the difference.


A good reason to recycle is to reduce the amount of plastic, often single use items, going straight into landfill. Plastic can be reformed once, or multiple times with the use of recycling systems. The best types of plastics are those that can be used multiple times before being recycled into another product.


With our plastics no longer being sent overseas to China [1], the more recovered material that's obtained in New Zealand, the easier it is to create a recycled material workflow. As more materials are correctly sorted in household recycling bins, this creates business opportunities for recycled products, resulting in money and incentives for recycling.


There are large sorting depots in New Zealand that sort through streams of rubbish from your household general waste bin to remove recyclable items. It is estimated that in New Zealand almost half the recyclable items come from general waste bins which aren’t properly sorted by the public [1]. Creating a demand for valuable recycled items by increasing recycling in households, could boost our economy, create more jobs and contribute to New Zealand’s sustainability goals.


These systems require effort on your end to ensure the right material is being recycled. Use this guide and the examples below to work out a recycling plan for your household.



Recyclable plastics guide:



This table provides an easy guide to which plastics are recyclable. Plastics 1, 2 and 5 are the easiest to recycle, whereas plastics 6, 3 and 7 are hard to recycle for health or processing reasons. Plastic 4 can be recycled, as it's a polyethylene, but only if there are soft plastic recycling schemes in your local area.



Examples of what you can and cannot recycle:






Handy tips:

  • Wash your recyclables! Items with food in them can get contaminated and rendered useless for recycling if not properly washed when disposed of.

  • Use community recycling stations! Many New Zealand communities have a range of resource recovery centers in addition to kerbside bins such as soft plastic recycling, Glass bottle collections and can stations. It’s worth checking what types of collection points are in your area and making use of them.

  • Spread the word! Talking to friends and family about how to recycle properly can make a large difference over time and reduces the amount of plastics we are sending to landfill.

  • Recycle to the ability of your local council: Find information online or get in touch with your local council to find out to what extent you’re able to recycle in your community. Encourage them to do more to reduce waste to landfill and reach New Zealand’s zero waste goal by 2040.

  • Reduce your own waste to landfill: if you can’t find easily recycled products, consider switching to home compostable products such as making your own newspaper bin liners or using home compostable bags, or silicone baking mats instead of aluminium foil. Composting returns resources back to the natural life cycle and greatly reduces waste build up.


[1] The Truth about Plastic Recycling in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020

[2] https://www.recycleright.co.nz/https://www.recycle.co.nz/consequences.php

Oscar is a mechanical engineer who recently graduated from AUT, with a focus in recycling for his penultimate projects. He is passionate about sustainability in all walks of life and is looking to integrate it into his future jobs. You could find Oscar eating every type mushroom possible, while coming up with quirky home projects that almost get completed. If an outdoor/ sporting activity is not completed every week that’s a sign it’s not Oscar.

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