Public Place Recycling project

We're running a trial of recycling stations around the city. These Public Place Recycling stations have a bin you can use for recycling glass, plastic, tins, cans and paper/cardboard items - and a bin for rubbish.

This on-going trial is designed to test both the form and function of our new stations – as well as people’s attitudes towards Public Place Recycling (PPR) in Wellington.

Each recycling station houses separate bins for co-mingled recycling, glass, and rubbish. You are able to recycle glass bottles and jars, clean plastic bottles and containers, tins, cans, and paper/cardboard items at nine stations located around the city. 

The trial will help us develop best practice for PPR in Wellington. Our hope is to set up these stations permanently at suitable locations.

The bins have been supplied through funding support to the Wellington City Council through the Litter Less, Recycle More project developed by the Packaging Forum, in partnership with Be A Tidy Kiwi.

Where are these recycling stations?

  • Cuba Mall outside WestPac Bank 
  • Civic Square
  • Lambton Quay bus transfer station – Outside at Terminal D and inside at Terminal A
  • Courtenay Place & Taranaki Street, near Tommy Millions
  • Oriental Parade
  • Midland Park
  • Evans Bay Parade campervan site
  • The Wellington Cenotaph

What can be recycled?

In the yellow bins: co-mingled (mixed) recycling

Please recycle clean:

  • Plastic containers/bottles
  • Tins and cans
  • Paper
  • Cardboard

We can’t recycle:

  • Polystyrene
  • Soft plastics (eg plastic bags)
  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Batteries

In the blue bins: glass

Please recycle:

  • Glass bottles (no lids)
  • Glass jars (no lids)

We can’t recycle:

  • Broken glass
  • Drinking glasses
  • Window glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Crockery

In the red bins: rubbish

General rubbish including:

  • Soft plastics / plastic bags
  • Containers with food on them
  • Polystyrene
  • Food scraps
  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Nappies

Can I recycle ....?

Coffee cups?

Sadly, no - we recommend using a Keep Cup or joining a reusable cup scheme like Again Again

Food waste?

No. To begin with, we would like to be sure we can collect clean recycling so this trial is only for collecting co-mingled recycling and glass - not food waste. In future we may consider trialing a public organic waste collection - but in the meantime, if food scraps are contaminated they can’t be made into compost and would need to go to the landfill.

Plastic bags?

No - soft plastics, including plastic bags, cannot be put in the Public Place Recycling bins. For information about soft plastics recycling, please see the information on where your recycling goes.

Who can use these bins?

These bins are to give the public the chance to recycle while out and about, and to help keep Wellington’s public places litter-free. The bins are not for commercial use, and are not to be used by businesses.

The trial will help us develop best practice for public place recycling in Wellington. Our hope is for permanent installation of the bins at suitable locations.

Can the bins be used by CBD residents?

These bins are not for residential recycling – they would not have the capacity to handle such volumes. They are for out and about recycling of drink bottles/cans.

How often are the bins emptied?

The bins use smart technology to minimise overflow, reduce collection costs and monitor usage - the technology notifies the collection team when it requires emptying. 

Where does the recycling go?

Recyclable items will be taken to Oji Fibre Solutions’ sorting and baling plant in Seaview. You can find out more about it on our recycling section.

Has the Chinese restrictions in recycling affected us? 

The Chinese Green Sword initiative putting restrictions on China receiving plastic came into force in March 2018, but Wellington City Council hasn’t exported any material to China since 2017. Grade 1 plastic is processed at @FlightGroupLtd, 20% of grades 2-7 are reprocessed in New Zealand, and we have alternative destinations for the rest of the materials. We are looking at better options for the future with the Regional Waste Minimisation and Management Plan.

How will people know what to put in each bin?

There is a clear description on the bins. We also have FAQs and information about recycling on our website. Our contact centre is always on hand to help too (04 499 4444). 

Why haven’t we done a Public Place Recycling bin trial before?

We have run a recycling trial in the past, but unfortunately the bins were continually contaminated with rubbish so we couldn't continue. We're hoping the new design and public education will help to make this a success so we can make them permanent.

Why are the bins such bright colours?

The bins bright colours help users distinguish between the bins usage, are easily recognisable as recycling and rubbish bins, and the same colours are used across the national trial for consistency - so visitors will recognise the appropriate colour-coding from town to town.

Can we give feedback on the bins? 

The installation of these Public Place Recycling bins is a trial, which also means we are taking on board all feedback on the design and content of the skins. We are passing on comments to our creative services team, who will develop a new skin later on in the trial, to best suit the needs of Wellingtonians and visitors to the capital.

If you wish to report a litter incident or make any comments on how we can improve our services please contact our Contact Centre on 499 4444 or by email info@wcc.govt.nz.

Next steps

The bins have been supplied to the Wellington City Council through the Litter Less, Recycle More project developed by the Packaging Forum, in partnership with Be A Tidy Kiwi.

Through our new regional waste plan  Wellington City Council has committed to reducing waste by a third over the next ten years. The plan includes looking at options for reducing food waste to landfill, including a domestic food waste collection. We also fund LoveFoodHateWaste - check out their website for more information, tips, and recipes to help reduce food waste.