Double trouble for recycling

Publish Date : 04 Jul 2023
Incorrect recycling
Bagged materials and non-recyclable items cannot be recycled and go to landfill.

The amount of non-recyclable material placed in Auckland kerbside recycling bins has doubled in three years.

In real terms, the recycling contamination rate has reached a record high of 22 per cent this year. Prior to 2020, the recycling contamination rate had remained stable at 11 per cent for a decade. Since then, it has been steadily climbing with no sign of slowing down.

The higher level of contamination is costing Auckland ratepayers an extra $3 million per year as the council must sort and dispose of the contamination.

Chair of the Planning, Environment and Parks Committee Richard Hills believes Aucklanders are committed to recycling.

“For Aucklanders, recycling is a way of life and people want to get it right. So, we’re asking Aucklanders to take extra care by making sure they understand how to recycle right. We all have a part to play in protecting our environment for future generations.”

Auckland Council collects approximately 132,000 tonnes every year from kerbside household recycling bins. All clean and dry recyclable material collected is sorted and baled as paper, cardboard, aluminium cans, tin cans, glass, plastics (1, 2 and 5) and sent to facilities onshore and overseas for sale and reprocessing.

Bagged material makes up nearly a third of the weight of contaminated recycling. Plastic bags, including compostable bags, and soft plastics are the worst contaminants of kerbside recycling as they can get caught up in the sorting machines.

Textiles such as clothing and bedding make up more than a quarter of the weight of waste going to landfill from recycling bins.

Some items that cannot be placed in kerbside recycling can be recycled elsewhere. Soft plastic packaging can be dropped at collection points at local participating retailers. Clothing can be donated to an op shop, put in a clothing bin or sold online. Worn out clothing can be taken to a community recycling centre for textile recycling.

Before you recycle

  • Empty and rinse all containers
  • Put all lids in your rubbish bin
  • All recyclable items need to be larger than 50mm x 50mm, but smaller than 4-litres
  • Leave items loose – do not put in bags.

Items you can put in your kerbside recycling bin

  • Glass bottles and glass jars
  • Tin, steel and aluminium cans
  • Plastic bottles and containers from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry (grades 1, 2 & 5 only)
  • Pizza boxes (remove any leftover food)
  • Newspapers, magazines, advertising mail and envelopes
  • Paper and cardboard packaging
  • Egg cartons

Auckland Council has updated its recyclable items to reflect recent changes to the national recycling standards issued by the government.

Items you cannot put in your kerbside recycling bin

  • Bagged rubbish or recycling
  • Plastic bags/soft plastics
  • Clothing, shoes and textiles
  • Food waste
  • Garden waste
  • Medical waste (including facemasks)
  • Chemicals and hazardous waste (including aerosols)
  • Nappies and sanitary products
  • Polystyrene
  • Cookware, Pyrex ®, drinking glasses
  • Window glass, mirror glass and light bulbs
  • Electronic and electrical items
  • Gas bottles
  • Batteries - lithium batteries can explode and have been known to cause fires in recycling trucks

To dispose of the above items, and to search for items not on this list, visit


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