From 1 February 2024, all Councils across New Zealand will only be accepting plastics 1, 2 and 5 in kerbside recycling bins.
This is a change from what Hamilton City Council previously accepted, which were plastics 1-7.
This change is part of the Ministry for the Environment’s Standardising Kerbside strategy, which will require all Councils to collect the same items in kerbside recycling from 1 February 2024.
It will also impact those who take recycling to the Lincoln Street Resource Recovery Centre.
Plastics with a number 1, 2 and 5, which will still accompany paper, cardboard, clean cans, and tins in kerbside recycling bins, are recyclable in New Zealand. They can be made into new products over and over again. This supports a circular economy, where products are made, but don’t get thrown away.
Glass will continue to be collected in the blue/green glass crate as normal.
Plastics 3, 4, 6, and 7 are known as ‘hard to recycle’ and there are limited recycling options for them in New Zealand or overseas. They only make up 5% of all kerbside recycling.
This does not include plastic bags or other soft plastics. The Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme continues to collect soft plastics from nine selected Countdown and The Warehouse stores in Hamilton.
Council’s Sustainable Resource Recovery Unit Director Tania Hermann said the national strategy aims to make recycling easy and more effective.
“Wherever you are in the country, you won’t have to wonder what can and can’t go into kerbside recycling,” said Hermann. “While this change is necessary as part of the national strategy, recycling properly is just the right thing to do.”
Compliance officers, or ‘bin cops’, check the contents of Hamiltonians recycling bins every week, as they are placed on the kerbside for collection. The officers leave a yellow tag as a warning, or a red tag, which means the bin won’t be collected until the un-recyclables are removed. These items can include nappies and sanitary items, batteries, food or green waste, textiles, and liquids.
Residents who continue to recycle hard-to-recycle plastics 3, 4, 6, and 7 may see orange warning tags on their bins as a reminder these are no longer recyclable. An orange tag won’t prevent the bin being collected.
The best way for residents to identify recyclable plastics is to check the numbers found on the bottom of many plastic products.
Hermann said she knows it’s not always easy to tell which plastic items are 1, 2 and 5 just by looking at them and some plastics have recycling numbers that can be hard to see.
“As a Council we can’t change how big the numbers are or influence manufacturers to stop making hard-to-recycle products.
“However, we report back to Government often, with ways we think recycling can be made easier. Part of that feedback has fed into the Government’s Standardising Kerbside strategy.
“You can do your part to recycle right, by buying plastics with a recycling number 1, 2 and 5 on them or alternatively, look for reusable alternatives to all the plastics you buy. Recycling is great, but there are other things we can do, such as reuse, reduce and refuse, before we recycle.”
Hermann said if you can’t see a recycling symbol or it’s too hard to read, to place it into the red lidded kerbside rubbish bin.
Examples of plastics 1, 2 and 5 include: milk, soft drink and juice bottles, large yoghurt containers, 2L hard ice cream containers, cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese containers, some dip containers, and some tomato, BBQ, and mustard squeeze bottles. It also includes meat trays and some takeaway containers. Rinse all recycling before putting it into the yellow lidded kerbside recycling bin.
Examples of plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 include: small yoghurt/sour cream pottles, styrofoam, PVC pipes, polystyrene, biscuit and cracker trays, pill packets, some dip containers, soft plastics (plastics you can scrunch in your hand such as biscuit and cracker bags and trays, packaging from bread, rice, packaged vegetables and fruit, shiny gift wrap) and some tomato sauce, mustard and BBQ squeeze bottles.