News | 7 December 2020

Recycling myths – busted!

We’re taking the guess work out of recycling by debunking some of our most common recycling myths and mistakes.

Bales of plastic bottles, thousands of them, ready to be sent to a recycling plant.

Wellingtonians are pretty great at recycling, but in a recent survey, we found quite a few of us are  'wishcycling' – recycling items we’re unsure of and hoping for the best! 

So to clear up any more confusion, we’re crossing a few things off Wellington’s ‘wish-list’ once and for all.

What’s the beef with plastic meat trays?

A common ‘misteak’ made by Wellingtonians is putting plastic meat and food trays into kerbside recycling. Our recycling processing plant (Oji) cannot differentiate between recyclable (PET) and non-recyclable (PVC) grades of plastic without contaminating the end product. Please put plastic and polystyrene meat and food trays into your kerbside rubbish.

Want to say nay to the tray? Try bringing your own container to the deli counter or your local butcher and fishmonger.

Time to Tetra Pak it in?

Contrary to popular belief, wax lined cardboard milk cartons, juice boxes and Tetra Pak cartons are not recyclable in your kerbside recycling, so please pop them into your kerbside rubbish.

Check out The Rubbish Trip website for some handy resources about buying and making zero waste drinks.

Squash your can crushing habits

Some of you might be a bit flattened to hear that you shouldn’t crush your aluminium drink cans. A crushed can will not be recognised by machinery at the recycling processing plant and will end up going to landfill.

An official council bag of recycling, on the path out the back of a grey-painted house, next to a green bottle recycling bin and rubbish bin, with two steps in background.

Tin cans? Put a lid on it!

You can actually leave the lids on your tin cans as long as they’re still attached and pushed inside. Larger tins such as baby formula tins are also accepted. Loose lids floating in your recycling are too small to be recycled and the sharp edges pose a safety risk to staff, so please wrap them and put them in your rubbish if they come off the tin.

What’s the deal with bottle caps?

Both plastic and metal lids and bottle tops are not recyclable in your kerbside recycling. This is because anything smaller than a yoghurt pottle cannot go through the sorting and bailing process at the recycling facility.

The Sustainability Trust has a free collection point for clean, metal bottle caps, lids for glass jars and plastic lids.

You could also stockpile metal lids and bring them to the scrap metal bin at the Southern Landfill Transfer Station (charges apply).

Plant pots – not as green as they seem!

Unfortunately, plastic plant and seedling pots can’t be recycled. However, if they’re in good nick, you can donate them to a variety of organisations and charities including your local op-shop or the Tip Shop (if they have space and there is market demand), list them on a marketplace, or check with your community garden.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

Which paper makes the cut?

Not all paper is actually recyclable. Receipts and thermal paper contain chemicals so they’re a no go. The fibres in paper towels and napkins are too short so they can’t be recycled either. But wrapping paper (without glitter, foil or plastic), office paper and newspapers all make the cut and can go in your kerbside recycling.

If the paper is smaller than a credit card, it will need to go in the rubbish as it’s too small to go through processing and bailing machinery.

A recycling truck with a male staff member in a high vis, cap and sunnies, standing beside a wheelie bin on a dry road.

Making a call on old electronics

Electronics or 'eWaste' is any kind of item that uses a plug or battery. These electrical devices contain valuable resources that can be recycled and reused.

You can drop eWaste off at The Southern Landfill Tip Shop. All items are free, except for TVs and computer screens. If the Landfill is a little far to travel, the Sustainability Trust also has a drop-off point at their inner city location (fees apply).

Fridge on the fritz?

Fridges and freezers can be recycled at the Southern Landfill for a fee of $25. They contain refrigerant gas which needs to be removed before being recycled as scrap metal.

All other whiteware can be placed in the scrap metal section at the Southern Landfill Transfer Station (fees apply). 

Should we scrap the pizza boxes?

Clean pizza boxes can actually go into your kerbside recycling but be sure to scrape off any leftover cheesy food scraps. Grease stains are ok!

If you splash out and get a jumbo pizza, fold it so it's no bigger than a recycling bag and leave it next to the rest of your recyclables.

If you’re ever unsure about whether to put an item in your recycling, you can look it up in our handy online directory or give our Contact Centre a call on 04 499 4444.

Happy recycling everyone!