Where your recycling goes

Recycling is collected from the kerbside by Envirowaste and taken to one of Oji Fibre Solutions’ sorting and baling plants in Seaview. It is then sorted into big bins and baled ready for transport.

Recycling sorting plant in Toop Road, Seaview.

Recycling sorting plant in Toop Road, Seaview

Cans and tins

Aluminium and steel cans go to Macaulay Metals, and then sent to China to be reprocessed.

Glass

The colour sorted glass goes to O-I New Zealand, in Auckland. The glass is then mixed with other raw materials and fed into a furnace where it is melted down to make bottles and jars.

Paper and cardboard

  • Paper goes to the Oji Fibre Solutions mill in Penrose, Auckland (this mill uses 100% recovered paper to make corrugated cardboard).
  • Cardboard goes to the Oji Fibre Solutions mill in Kinleith, Tokoroa (this mill uses recycled cardboard and new wood fibres to make new cardboard).
  • Plastic

    • Clear PET (Plastic Grade 1), e.g. plastic clear bottles and clear containers, will now be processed in Wellington by Flight Group Ltd. These will be recycled into food grade packaging. Excess PET will continue to go overseas to be made into carpets and polar fleece jerseys.
    • Approximately 20% of plastic grades 2-7 go to Budget Plastics in Palmerston North, where it is reprocessed into bin liners or plastic feedstock for local plastic manufacturers, with the remainder exported to overseas buyers.
    • Amount of plastic sent overseas:

      Estimated tonnage from Wellington City Council in 2017 that all goes off shore to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, & China:

      • PET coloured (milk bottles) = 194 tonnes
      • PET coloured (other) = 32 tonnes
      • Mixed plastic = 222 tonnes
      • Waste film = 130 tonnes

      Onshore recycling:

      • PET clear = 162 tonnes (goes to Flight Plastic Recycling in Lower Hutt)

      Soft plastic

      When recycling is collected there needs to be a viable market available for the materials to be sold on. Soft plastic is very cheap to make and buy new, so there isn’t much demand for the materials to be recycled on.

      The Packaging Forum recently received a $700,000 grant from the Government's Waste Minimisation Fund to roll out a nationwide Love NZ soft plastic recycling programme.

      The programme is a consumer recycling initiative that allows people to recycle a range of soft plastic packaging, which previously ended up in landfill. New World, Pak'nSave and Countdown are providing soft plastic recycling bins.

      The supermarkets are using their own distribution network to transport the soft plastic they collected. The plastics are taken to Melbourne, where they are made into furniture and other durable plastic items.

      This scheme may create demand for products made from soft plastics and create ongoing New Zealand recycling solutions for soft plastics

      Many retailers have committed to going plastic bag free in 2018 including supermarket chains Countdown and New World, service station Z Energy, and Mitre 10.

      What happens to non-recyclables that are collected?

      Any item that is collected and can’t be recycled is separated out and sent to landfill. Key issues the recycling team report are:

      • Glass being put in the bags and wheelie bins instead of the crates, and plastic being put in the crates with glass.
      • Polystyrene and food are the two most common contaminates found in the bins and bags – food like pizza in pizza boxes, or food left in plastic food containers. If the contamination is bad the recycling won’t be collected at all and the resident will be notified with a sticker on the bin.