Top tips for rubbish and recycling
The more you reduce, reuse, and recycle, the better it is for the environment – and your wallet.
Check out these top tips for ways to improve your rubbish and recycling management. Don't forget to check out our Rubbish and Recycling Directory for more information about whether your item is trash or a recyclable treasure.
How can you help? Say no to single use plastics
Just say no to single use straws, cups, bottles, containers and bags. Here are some handy hints on how to do that and to reduce the plastic in your life, plus some other top tips to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle:
- Carry reusable shopping bags and never take supermarket plastic bags – initiatives like Boomerang Bags are popular
- Say no to plastic produce bags and food wrapped in plastic
- Buy loose produce in the supermarkets, use paper bags, or shop at farmer’s markets (take your own bags).
- You can't put batteries out with your household recycling, we suggest using rechargeable batteries if necessary. The Sustainability Trust’s EcoCentre in central Wellington accepts batteries and other eWaste for recycling, but charges apply. Or you can drop these off for free at the Hazardous waste at the Transfer Station, Southern Landfill.
- You can't put takeaway coffee cups and lids out with your household recycling. We recommend using keep cups.
- Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers – there are plenty of alternatives on the market today
- Wrap sandwiches in paper, cloth or bees wax wraps which are reusable – children can decorate their own paper bags to take to school.
- Get a reusable stainless steel bottle and fill it up
- Use a Coffee Keep Cup or have a coffee in-house
- Bottle caps are made from different plastic than the bottle, and can't be recycled – if you can't find a school or childcare centre that wants them, please put in your rubbish
- Refuse polystyrene cups.
- You can recycle glass bottles and clean glass jars in your recycling bin, but don't forget to put the lids in your rubbish. You need to rinse recyclables, as liquid or food residue contaminates the materials, and prevent them from being recyclable.
- You can't put broken glass of any kind in your green recycling crate. Glass crates are sorted by hand at the kerbside and broken glass is a major safety risk – please wrap it in newspaper and put in your rubbish.
- You can't put any light bulbs out in your green recycling crate. Bring your light bulbs to the Transfer Station at the Southern Landfill instead and we'll recycle them free of charge, or purchase a recycling box for CFL light bulbs from Interwaste.
Plastic - soft plastic like food wrap and bubble wrap
- You can't put plastic food wrap, bubble wrap or any soft plastic that you can scrunch up (plastic bags) out with your household recycling. The soft plastic recycling scheme is suspended, with plans to resume a sustainable service later in the year. Bees wrap is a good natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage, and bubble wrap is always handy for packing fragile packages when moving.
- You can't recycle polystyrene. Unless you can find a creative use for your polystyrene, it will need to go out with your rubbish.
- Paper and stainless steel alternatives are now available.
- Students from Marsden Collegiate School are running a campaign, #bagsinthewild, in which people take photographs of plastic bag litter and email them to Environment Minister Nick Smith, and Member of Parliament Scott Simpson.
Takeaway Food Containers
- You can put clean plastic takeaway containers out in your recycling. We recycle hard plastic containers 1-7, so check the bottom of your container before popping it into your recycling.
Pizza boxes are able to be recycled, as long as food scraps are removed, and the box is flattened.
- You can't put tin foil out with your household recycling.
- Microbeads are tiny plastic beads contained in some personal care cosmetic products. Avoid products containing exfoliation beads/abrasive beads. Due to the increase in bans of microbeads in the USA, many cosmetic companies are also phasing out microbeads from their production lines. Foodstuffs stores (New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square) are microbead product free from 1 July 2017. We hope to see a complete phase out by 2018. Use natural alternatives for scrubs, like oats or apricot kernels.
Tours of the Southern landfill are available. The tour gives a history of waste operations, looks at the volume and types of waste being sent to landfills, and shares ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Visit our free landfill tour section for all the information you need and how to book.
Love Food Hate Waste NZ
Kiwi families throw out about $560 worth of food a year, which hurts the wallet as much as the planet. We support Love Food Hate Waste NZ so they can inform, inspire, and enable Wellingtonians to waste less food –and save money.
Minimise waste at events
Check out our minimise waste at events section to find out all you need to know, and what resources and support are available to help you with a waste-free approach when planning your event.
Schools, early childhood centres and not-for-profit organisations can apply for a kerbside collection service or a recycling grant for their recycling. Check out our grants page for more information.
Waste minimisation seed fund
Did you know your innovative waste reduction initiative could be eligible for funding? Check out our funding page for more information and to see if your project fits the criteria.