Recycling changes from 1 June
From 1 June, plastics grades 3 to 7 can no longer be collected in kerbside recycling or dropped at transfer stations as a result of significant changes to the global recycling market.
Residents can continue to recycle grades 1 and 2, which includes milk, drink bottles and detergent bottles. Other recycling categories including glass, tins, aluminium cans, paper and cardboard are not affected by the changes.
Grades 3 to 7 include widely-used items such as ice cream containers, yoghurt pots and takeaway containers.
The plastic category number can commonly be found in the recycling symbol on the bottom or side of plastic containers.
While there is currently no sustainable market for grades 3-7 plastics, this situation has presented an opportunity for innovation in the future use of waste products.
In 2017, China banned the import of 24 grades of waste including household plastics and mixed paper. New Zealand had since been sending plastic waste to South East Asia, but Malaysia is also moving to ban imports of non-recyclable plastics.
Eight councils around New Zealand have already implemented this change in their recycling, with several others following suit this year.
The most sustainable way forward is a change in consumer habits and households consciously aiming to reduce their waste.
Every household can stop these plastics ending up in landfill by choosing not to buy them in the first place. The type of packaging a product comes in should be a factor in purchase decisions – check the grade of plastic first to identify whether it can be recycled. If it can’t, try to choose an alternative that doesn’t generate waste, or can be recycled.
Our communications plan is underway to inform the public, including an advertising campaign for print, radio and social media, along with editorial content and messaging in our Council eNews.
Later this month stickers will be applied to all recycling bins to make it simple for households to know what can be recycled.
Here's more information and questions and answers.