Keep the intruders out – recycle right

Publish Date : 01 Mar 2017
recycled plastics

Aucklanders are fantastic at recycling. Each year we send around 120,000 tonnes of material to be recycled.

But there’s a dark side too. It turns out that 13 per cent of the material Aucklanders are putting into recycling bins can’t actually be recycled.

The wrong stuff is being put in the wrong bins. WATCH: What can we recycle? 

Dirty or non-recyclable items can ruin clean recycling, cause health hazards for staff and even cause costly damage to equipment, so there are a range of reasons why it pays to be vigilant when sorting your recycling.

So what are the main culprits and where should they be going?


While we want you to recycle the containers, they need to be without the contents. A few dregs of milk left in the bottle may not be a big deal at your end, but by the time that bottle hits the recycling sorting facility the milk has turned into a rancid mass of bacteria that is going to cause a revolting mess when it’s manually sorted – not to mention a health and safety hazard for staff!

This goes for the baked beans in the can, the yoghurt container and the tomato sauce remains. That’s why we ask you to rinse all food out of containers before you recycle.

Pizza boxes are another one. While clean pizza boxes can be recycled we ask that all the cheesy remnants are wiped off and any leftovers (like those carefully picked off pieces of pineapple) removed.

Plastic bags

Soft plastics – plastic shopping bags, bread bags, bubble wrap and so on – are bad news for the machinery at our recycling sorting facility, which is why they can’t go in your kerbside recycling bin.

But they can be recycled. Simply collect all your soft plastics and take them along to your local supermarket when you next go shopping.

Most supermarkets now have a collection point for soft plastics. And while you’re shopping see if you can come out with less plastic than you dropped off!


Easy to see the confusion – they’re plastic – but unfortunately not the sort we can do anything with.

Broken, unwanted plastic toys have to go to the forever Land of Rubbish, unless you have enough to make this clever hedgehog. 

hedgehog with toys

The same applies to inflatable toys and equipment (pools).


A surprising number of people confuse disposable with recyclable given the high number of nappies thrown in the recycling bins.

It makes no difference – aside from a major ew factor – whether they are clean or dirty, NO NAPPIES IN THE RECYCLING BIN.

Clothing and footwear

While we’re all about ensuring your unwanted clothes go on to a new life, the recycling bin is not the way to dispose of them. They can’t be recycled in our facilities and the material clogs up the machinery, causing delays while it is manually removed.

Instead, donate items to a charity shop or a textile recycling centre, pop them in a clothing bin or, as a last resort, send them to landfill via the rubbish bin.

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