Frequently Asked Questions
Here's what you need to know about the changes in recycling plastics
From September 2020:
- Plastic containers with the number 1, 2 or 5 in the recycling triangle can go in the yellow recycling bin - REMEMBER: LIDS OFF – WASH – DON’T SQUASH
- All other plastics (numbers 3, 4, 6, & 7) are now for the red landfill bin – these currently make up less than 3% of all plastics collected, so it’s unlikely you will even notice the difference in your red-lidded bin. From early September, all plastics 3,4,6 & 7 put in the recycling bin will be considered “contamination” and will be sent to landfill.
- Do you know where the triangle is on your plastic products? Have a look for it when you’re shopping next and choose 1, 2 and 5!
- All other recycling remains the same - you can still recycle most of your plastics (1s, 2s and 5s), cans, tins, egg cartons, cardboard, newspaper, magazines etc as usual.
- If in doubt throw it out and keep the dirty stuff like unrinsed meat trays and ash trays in the red bin!
As individuals, we all need to take responsibility for the waste we produce and become more conscious about what we purchase. If we want to be more sustainable, we need to make changes to avoid purchasing products that are single-use and not easily recycled. We are guardians (Kaitiaki) of our beautiful natural environment and sending our waste problems to other countries isn’t environmentally safe and doesn’t sit right with us. At the moment, we only have the facilities to recycle Plastics 1, 2 and 5, so all other plastics need to be sent to landfill.
This move is in line with many other Councils across New Zealand, and aligns with national-level plans to tackle problem plastics and move away from companies producing and using hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics in the first place – click here to see more information.
There are no on-shore recycling markets or recycling infrastructure for hard-to-recycle mixed plastics of Types 3, 4, 6 & 7. Sending these plastics for offshore recycling was not environmentally safe, and many international markets have banned imports of these waste materials.
In 2018, when China closed its gates to mixed recycling, New Zealand started shipping its recycling to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Unfortunately, these countries did not have the capacity to deal with the worlds’ recycling volumes, so they were disposing of the product in inappropriate and environmentally unfriendly ways, ending up in the ocean and burning into the atmosphere, defeating the purpose of all our hard work in NZ.
We are now out of options - For a while, Council was able to pay other companies to take the hard-to-recycle plastic recycling as it had no value, but recently the markets have stood still and for 12 months STDC has collected these plastics and been unable to find anywhere for it to go. It is for this reason that South Taranaki District Council can no longer collect number 3,4,6 & 7 plastics in the kerbside collection or transfer station recycling pods.
No, there won't be a change to the size of the landfill bin collection – the plastics that are changing make up about 3% of all recycling currently so you shouldn't see a noticeable change in the volume of your landfill bin.
The easiest way to check if an item is recyclable or not is to look for the numbered triangle, usually on the bottoms or sides of plastic containers. If it says 1, 2, or 5 add the plastic container to your recycling.
If the number is a 3, 4, 6 or 7 then it needs to go into your rubbish bin. Sometimes plastics don’t have a number on them. These are unidentified plastics and also need to go into your rubbish bin.
Just remember that not all plastics are created equally so it pays to check but, in the meantime, here is a quick list of the easy-to-recycle categories:
1 (triangle) – clear milk bottles, soft drink bottles, water bottles, Peanut butter jars, salad dressing bottles These are clear, strong and light weight making them widely recyclable and good quality product
2 (triangle) – shampoo and conditioner bottles, cleaning bottles. These are stiff, hard wearing and hard to breakdown in sunlight.
5 triangle – ice cream tubs, large yogurt containers, ketchup and condiment bottles