Recycling 101: the definitive guide

Publish Date : 28 Nov 2023
Recycling 101 Image 1

If you’re unsure of what you can or cannot place in your kerbside recycling bin, you’re not alone. Juice boxes? Plastic lunch containers? Do you leave lids on or take them off? Do you crush cans or not?

Across the motu, it has often depended on where you live as to what items are accepted. That changes in February 2024, when the whole country moves to a national standard for kerbside recycling collections.

Auckland Council has already updated our list of what can and can’t go into recycling bins in line with the government's guidelines.

Find out how to recycle right and do your part to waste nothing.

What you can put in your kerbside recycling bin

  • glass bottles and jars

  • tin, steel and aluminium cans

  • household plastic containers (grades 1, 2 and 5 only – look for the number in a triangle)

  • cardboard, newspapers, magazines, paper

  • empty pizza boxes, egg cartons and envelopes

  • If you live on Aotea / Great Barrier Island, you need to flatten and securely bundle or bag your paper and cardboard items and place them next to your crate.

Top tips

  • Keep it clean - empty and rinse all containers

  • Remove the lids and put them in the rubbish bin

  • Don’t crush or flatten containers. Only cardboard packing boxes should be flattened.

  • Let it be loose and free

  • If in doubt, leave it out.

What you cannot put in kerbside recycling bins

  • Absolutely NO food, textiles, carpets, clothes, batteries, appliances, nappies, medical waste, garden waste, chemicals…

  • No soft plastic, no plastic bags

  • No bagged recycling or rubbish

  • No plastic containers that are not grades 1, 2 or 5

  • No window glass, mirrors, cookware, drinking glasses or lightbulbs

  • No aerosol cans

  • No containers larger than 4 litres

  • No liquid paperboard (e.g. beverage cartons, juice boxes)

  • No coffee cups or compostable containers

Make sure there’s no food or liquid left in your recyclable containers as they can’t be recycled with food in them and may contaminate other recyclable items. Any leftover food scraps can go into your home compost or your food scraps bin.

Soft plastic can be recycled, but not in your kerbside bin. Participating supermarkets and retailers have a special bin for soft plastics to be returned. Did you know your soft plastic gets recycled into fence posts?

Extra information on kerbside recycling

Help us reduce Auckland’s recycling contamination rate by recycling right. Always get it right by downloading the Binny app on your phone from the app store.

Never miss your kerbside recycling day even during the holidays - sign up for the Holiday Text Bin notification.

For more comprehensive lists of what can and cannot go into your recycling bin and downloadable brochures in other languages please visit the Auckland Council website. You’ll also find alternative ways to dispose of things that cannot go into your recycling or rubbish bin.

Do you have to recycle?

Our goal for Auckland is zero waste to landfill by 2040. Recycling is an important part of reaching that goal, alongside reusing items, repurposing materials, composting or anaerobically digesting food scraps, and preventing waste in the first place.

If you have alternative uses for items that usually go in your kerbside recycling, ka pai!  Green Bottle’s mission to see New Zealanders think differently by reusing glass beverage bottles is a great example. Find out more at

If we all do our part, together we can waste nothing and save valuable resources.

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