Plastic Free July

We celebrate Plastic Free July every year, a global initiative that aims to reduce plastic usage and increase recycling, with events, activities and top tips.

Plastic Free July takeaways

What is Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July is a global initiative that aims to reduce plastic usage and increase recycling. The event is designed to encourage individuals to become more aware of just how much plastic they’re using – and how they can reduce it.

The mission is for our world to become cleaner and greener for future generations – currently it’s trending in the opposite direction.

Events and activities have finished for the most recent Plastic Free July, but the philosophy can be all year round.

Why get involved?

Every single piece of plastic ever used still remains on earth today. While a lot gets recycled and repurposed through Council’s kerbside collection, a large amount still ends up in our landfills and natural environments. It is estimated that around 40% of global annual plastic production is going to landfills, and about 30% is leaking in to the environment, often ending up in the oceans.

Unfortunately, a large amount of plastic ends up in our waterways. All marine life – from whales to turtles to tiny fish – mistake plastic for food. This leads to entanglement, starvation, dehydration, internal damage and death. For the animals that survive, plastic becomes part of the food chain, threatening marine ecosystems and our own human health.

How to get started

This involves changing your behaviour and making a habit of choosing to refuse single-use plastic. It’s easier than it sounds! 

Don’t know where to start? First step – check out the Plastic Free July website to learn more. Take the Plastic Free July quiz – if your answers aren’t, “I’m doing this now” to some degree, then here are a few things you could either start or be doing more of to reduce the impact of single-use plastic waste. 

  • Ditch the single-use plastic water bottles – grab a reusable bottle from home.
  • Sip that flat white inside a cosy café, sign up to a reusable cup scheme, or use a keep cup to takeaway
  • Take a reusable container to your favourite food outlet to put your takeaway kai in
  • Love your turtles… use paper or stainless steel straws… or just enjoy your refreshment without one.

Culling these materials from your life is simple – it doesn’t take much to bring your own shopping bag and water bottle from home, or bring a reusable container to put those takeaways in. You can also have your coffee to drink-in at your favourite cafe, buy a keep cup, or sign up to a reusable cup scheme like Again Again

Bags in the Wild tours

Our Southern Landfill team offers 'Bags in the Wild' tours to residents to witness first-hand the devastating effects of plastic in the wild. 

Systems are in place to try to contain flying litter, but the combination of lightweight single-use plastic bags and other plastics, combined with Wellington’s iconic winds, means it is difficult to stop all plastics escaping the landfill. When they get into the surrounding environment they can threaten native birds such as pukeko and kereru, as well as polluting nearby streams.

The ‘Bags in the Wild’ tour is suitable for adults and supervised children, including school groups and community groups. Tours can be booked by emailing or calling 04 383 4442.

Campaign to go single-use plastic free at our pools and facilities

Currently New Zealanders send 828,189,600 single-use plastic bottles to landfill per year, the equivalent of 165 Olympic swimming pools. Wellington City alone uses enough bottles annually to fill seven Olympic sized pools.

Council wants to reduce this number by encouraging pool, gym and recreation centre goers to consider alternatives to single-use plastic bottles by bringing their own water bottles and using the water coolers on site. 


We also work closely with Wellington-based non-profit RefillNZ to help spread the refill message. RefillNZ want to make tap water the drink of choice by empowering people to ask for free tap water from local businesses. Participating businesses have a RefillNZ sticker in their window, and everyone is welcome to go in and fill up there bottle there.

But wait, there's more...

We’ve advocated for the end of single-use plastic bags and plastic straws, have rolled out a trial of Public Place Recycling bins, and support sustainable organisations through our grants like Boomerang Bags NZ , Sustainable Coastlines, the Sustainable Business Network, and The Formary.

You can also check out our top tips on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle all-year roundit’s better for the environment – and your wallet.


With single-use plastic bags being banned on 1 July 2019, WasteMINZ has created a series of posters in multiple languages to remind people to bring their reusable bags. The posters can be downloaded here.

The posters have been made in the following languages English, te reo Māori, Mandarin – simplified (used in Mainland China) and traditional (used in Hong Kong and Taiwan); Korean, Hindi, Punjabi, Korean, Spanish.

Harbourside Market

Since 1 July 2019, Council-managed Harbourside Market provides shopping baskets at every stall, and mesh produce bags are available at the Hippiestraw stall, as single-use handled plastic bags are no longer allowed to be supplied by vendors.