Recyclable recycling bags

We've delivered free packs of recycling bags to Wellington households – and although they are no longer green, they’re much greener than before.

Image of the new recyclable recycling bag

The new see-through bags have been delivered to Wellington households in 2019. These bags are now recyclable alongside the items that are put in them.

The bags are the same size as before, hold up to 10kg in weight, and take the same materials – clean paper, cardboard, plastic, tins and cans.

Because the bags are see-through, they will also reduce contamination and risks to collectors. Below is information about the bags, but if you can't find what you're looking for, please get in touch with our contact centre on 499 4444 or email

Moving from the green bags to the clear bags

  • The new bag is recyclable; the old green one was not. This is because the clear bag is made up of a single plastic type, which makes it recyclable; the green bags were made of a composite mix of plastics, which means it was not recyclable in New Zealand or overseas.
  • The green bags will still be collected in our kerbside collection service.
  • The new recyclable bags are being introduced now because there were contractual arrangements that limited how soon we could change the bag. We have had plans to do this for some time, but we also had to ensure that the new bags would be durable and had adequate shelf life for their use, as well as wait for adjustments made to the recycling plant where we sort the kerbside recycling material so the plastic bags could be sorted and sent for recycling. We also had to work with our overseas recycling partners to ensure that the new bags could be recycled.

Information about the new clear recycling bags

  • The bags are the same size as before, and take the same materials – clean paper, cardboard, plastic, tins and cans. If you are unsure about what you can recycle, please use our online directory.
  • The safe carry weight of your recycling is 10kg per bag.
  • With the new bags being see-through, we recommend that you shred all personal and private information before placing it in your recycling bag. Similar bags have been used in other New Zealand cities with no privacy issues.
  • The new bags will be recycled overseas while there is a market for such projects, and until on-shore processing and a local market exists.
  • The new bags are wrapped in the same material as the bag so it can be the first thing you put into the new bags.
  • The new bags will be recycled back into LDPE pellets, as a ‘raw’ material as part of manufacturing of new products
  • LDPE is widely used for manufacturing various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic bags for computer components, and various molded laboratory equipment. Its most common use is in plastic bags. Other products made from it include trays and general purpose containers.

Delivery and collection

  • If you live outside the city centre and your address is unsuitable for a wheelie bin, you will receive a delivery of 52 recycling bags once a year - these will start arriving on your doorstep from early April each year. If you believe you have been missed in the delivery, please get in touch with our Contact Centre before the cut-off date at the end of July each year. 
  • If you run out of bags, extra ones can be purchased at the Wellington City Council service centre or at Johnsonville, Kilbirnie, Newtown or Tawa libraries: Our Libraries - Branches - Wellington City Libraries – extra bags cost $13 for 26.
  • Our collection times and weeks haven't changed. We collect different types of recycling on alternate weeks, so to check whether it’s green crate (glass recycling) week, or the week you need to put out bags or wheelie bins, just type the name of your street into our handy recycling calendar tool. Once you have searched for your street you will be given the option to add the information to your calendar.

General information

  • If you are interested in getting a recycling wheelie bin, check out the information in our wheelie bin section to see if you fit the criteria.
  • Our recycling system is controlled under the Wellington City Consolidated Bylaw 2008. Failure to comply with this bylaw can result in:
    1. your recycling not being collected, in which case the recycling must be removed from the street. Failure to do so could result in an Infringement Notice and fine of up to $400
    2. the Council preventing you from using the collection service.
  • Our yellow rubbish bags aren't recyclable. Having the yellow bags recyclable does not provide us much benefit as we currently have no technology to separate out yellow bags for recycling once it is delivered at landfills. We are considering degradable yellow bags (so it can degrade once buried in a landfill), should a cost effective, practical option presents itself.
  • If you live in the central city, the recycling process remains the same. Options for optimising the central city system will be considered through Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.
  • The Annual Plan contains a commitment to investigate options for diverting food waste from Landfill, and this will include food waste collection as part of a wider trial.  Once the plan is adopted in late June there will be more to come. In the meantime, you can find out ways to reduce your food waste at home at Love Food Hate Waste.
  • Some households are blacklisted so won't receive any recycling bags. We know most residents are good recyclers, and their households may be doing everything right, but unfortunately too many residents in some streets have been using the green recycling bags to dispose of general household rubbish. This is a widespread problem in some areas, but we inform the neighbourhood of the situation and they can request recycling bags through our service centre.