Is that piece of plastic really getting recycled?
Lids on plastic bottles, or lids off? What can be recycled in New Zealand!? Auckland kerbside recycling pickup will take lids, Wellington won't (currently).
It’s little wonder that many people are confused and worried about plastic recycling. Councils around the country have different rules, with plastic being processed by different companies. The demand for recycled goods changes regularly - it’s all based on what the recycling centre buyers are seeking - so check in each year with your council to see if this list has changed.
Choose to refuse
When you can, we recommend refusing plastic. Choose cardboard, paper or tin cans. Tin is 100% recyclable and valuable resources, so be sure to recycle all of them.
Or choose an alternative! Jump down to the bottom of page for tips including great sustainable alternatives at nil.
Some products in plastic can't be avoided. Companies are changing their packaging to ensure it is recyclable. It's important to also reducing the amount of plastic sent to recycling - as a lot of energy and resources are required to process tonnes of plastic.
What plastic can be recycled in NZ?
In general, in New Zealand, the types of plastic we can confidently say we can recycle here are plastic 1, 2 and 5 which are clear or white. Some recycle processing centres may be able to handle colours other than white, but this can’t be guaranteed. And, those white plastic yogurt pots in 6 packs? Think again - they are actually a type of polystyrene and can’t be recycled or broken down anywhere! (These will be phased out in 2023). Plastics with number 3, 6, 7 are either not possible to recycle in NZ or extremely difficult and likely end up in landfill.
Packaging companies in NZ (i.e. Flight Plastics) are using recycled PET plastic and create new packaging - for fruit products in supermarkets (marked recycled plastic). The local soft plastic recycling schemes for no 4 plastic film are up and running again in NZ but they are dealing with mountains of plastic backlog. But, this all needs energy and resources to process. To make new packaging using recycled PET plastic actually requires a small amount of virgin plastic to be added in the production process to ensure quality.
Make sure you check in with your local Council waste and recycling service, to check what they can collect and process. This quick reference guide below is produced by The Ministry for the Environment and is a really helpful guide.
Phase it out
Here's where the public can lead the way - consumer power. Phase out plastic packaged products that you are purchasing.
And, the Government is working on phasing out some plastics too. Single use plastics are likely to be banned by 2023 and hard to recycle items starting to be phased out over several years.
We have great sustainable alternatives at nil. One of the first items to be phased out entirely (by 2025 at this stage) in new Government rules in NZ, will be plastic cotton buds.
In our nil bathroom range the 100% biodegradable nil cotton buds are made with sustainable bamboo and organic cotton and were one of the first items in the nil bathroom range several years ago!
While you’re focused on replacing plastic products in your bathroom, take a look at our new 100% biodegradable silk dental floss. No hidden BPLAT fibres in this floss.
We are developing this product range and have new innovative makeup removers and facecloths in NZ wool, plant based sponges made of konjac, bamboo toothbrushes and NZ made vegan shaving bars.
Use your own. Reusables for the win
Our nil ‘on the go’ product range includes a fan fave - the nil waste double walled stainless steel coffee cup. We also have a stainless steel and bamboo lunchbox and large 1 litre quality stainless steel drink bottle.
We love stainless steel as it is a pure product that can be easily recycled and is the most hygienic surface available for food storage.
It’s great to see small NZ businesses starting up container return/borrow systems and products. And the NZ Government is currently investigating large scale container return schemes, in partnership with the Auckland Council and Marlborough.
Change is coming. You can be the change you want to see in the world.