Where your recycling goes

Kerbside recycling is collected by EnviroNZ and taken to Oji Fibre Solutions in Seaview. Here it is sorted by material type and prepared for transport to recyclers and manufacturers.

Cans and tins

Aluminium cans and steel tins go to Macaulay Metals and are then sent overseas to be reprocessed.


Wellington’s glass is colour sorted before being sent to Visy in Auckland. For suburban collections, sorting is done by hand when it is picked up from the kerb. Sorting the glass by hand and separating it by colour means we have high quality, uncontaminated glass that can easily be made back into bottles and jars of the same colour.

At Visy the sorted glass is crushed and mixed with other raw materials, then fed into a furnace where it is melted down and shaped into new bottles and jars.

Paper and cardboard

Once sorted, and baled into 1 tonne bales, paper and cardboard are taken to Oji Fibre Solutions mills in Penrose, Auckland and Kinleith, Tokoroa.

  • At the mills, it is put in a hydropulper – similar to a large washing machine.
  • The wood fibre is cleaned and pumped to the paper machine.
  • The paper machine sprays the wet wood fibre onto a moving felt screen, then through a series of heated roller presses – this extracts the water.
  • The finished paper rolls off the machine.
  • It is then sent to box making plants where they cut, glue, and shape the paper into new cardboard boxes for New Zealand businesses.
  • These businesses send the boxes to customers, who recycle them, and the recycling process starts again.

Did you know?

  • Aluminium cans and steel tins can be easily recycled an unlimited number of times.
  • Glass bottles and jars can be recycled an unlimited number of times.
  • Paper and cardboard can be recycled through the mill process up to 7–8 times before the wood fibres become too short and are washed away.


  • Clear PET (plastic grade 1) – for example, soft drink and water bottles, meat trays, and berry punnets – is processed in Wellington by Pact. These are recycled into food safe packaging used for meat, produce, fruit and bakery items.
  • White and coloured PET (plastic grade 1) – examples include some juice and non-dairy milk bottles – is baled and sold to onshore reprocessors or export buyers.
  • White and coloured HDPE (plastic grade 2) – for example, bathroom and laundry bottles – go to Astron Recycling – Pact Group in Auckland or Aotearoa NZ Made in Palmerston North, or offshore recyclers to be reprocessed into plastic feedstock.
  • Natural HDPE (plastic grade 2) – for example, opaque milk and cream bottles – is currently sent overseas for recycling and is reprocessed into plastic pellets which will be used in manufacturing new products.
  • Polypropylene (plastic grade 5) goes to Aotearoa NZ Made in Palmerston North where it is granulated and made into new products.

The Ministry for the Environment are working to increase recycling capability in New Zealand so we can reprocess more recyclables onshore.

Why we don’t accept some items in kerbside recycling

The materials that are accepted in kerbside recycling are of high quality and valuable. They have viable markets where manufacturers can easily turn them into new products again and again. 

Items that are not accepted in New Zealand kerbside recycling are hard to recycle because they are usually made of materials that are problematic to sort, of lower quality and value. Therefore there are few end markets for them. 

See what you can and can't recycle.

Alternative recycling schemes

Some items that are not accepted in kerbside recycling have alternative recycling schemes, such as soft plastic – see drop off points on the Soft Plastic Recycling website.

Find more specialised recycling drop off options by searching for items on what to do with your waste.

What happens to non-recyclables that are collected?

Incorrect items make our sorters and collectors' jobs harder; they need to be removed by hand and sent to landfill.

However, the speed of sorting and volumes processed means incorrect items are sometimes unable to be removed and end up contaminating baled recyclable material. This lowers the quality and value of the bales.

Putting the right clean items in your bin or bag at home helps to avoid this and keep our recycling quality high. This means the recycling markets, where we sell our recycling, are more likely to buy it.