Kick start the new decade with a pledge to recycle right

Kick start the new decade with a pledge to recycle right

The 10 best and worst things you can put in your recycling bin

Published: Friday 24 January 2020

Around 15 per cent of items found in the average Aucklander’s kerbside rubbish bin are recyclable materials that could be given another life.

On top of that, around 12 per cent of what is picked up from kerbside recycling collections is either non-recyclable items that people incorrectly put in the bin or recyclable containers that are too contaminated to recycle, because they are still filled with food or liquid.  

Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee says this presents a real opportunity for Aucklanders to turn over a new leaf with the new year and new decade and focus on recycling right and finding ways to reduce our consumption of single-use packaging.

“Looking at ways to refuse or reduce our use of single-use packaging, such as plastic bottles or coffee cups, and choosing reusable containers is the best place to start. 

"The next best thing we can do is to improve our recycling habits to maximise the amount of resources we recover. Keeping materials in circulation by recycling them reduces the amount of valuable resources that currently end up in landfill.

“We’ve put together a list of the 10 best things to put in your recycling bin and the 10 worst things that people often put in that need to stay out.  If we can all work on recycling right, it has a positive effect not only on the environment but also creates economic benefits – we help to build a sustainable recycling sector and create local jobs,” adds Councillor Hills.

The 10 best things that should always go in your recycling bin

  1. Steel/tin cans – ideally try to remove paper labels
  2. Aluminium cans, including empty aerosol cans from your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry
  3. Glass bottles
  4. Glass jars
  5. Paper and cardboard, including used pizza boxes (without any food scraps):
    • break down cardboard boxes
    • flatten cardboard packaging
    • avoid paper with glitter, metal foil, such as decorative wrapping paper and cards
  6. Plastic drink bottles - remove plastic sleeves if you can and recycle through your local soft plastics recycling drop-off
  7. Plastic milk bottles
  8. Single-use plastic containers from your kitchen, such as:
    • Meat trays – not the polystyrene ones
    • Biscuit trays
    • Chilled product containers – for yoghurt and butter, etc
  9. Single-use containers from your bathroom
  10. Single-use containers from your laundry 

Empty, rinse, sort

Here are some other tips for recycling right:

  • Completely empty out aerosol cans and containers, especially ones with liquid or drink
  • Rinse out all containers.  The cleaner the better is the rule of thumb
  • Flatten paper and cardboard to save space in your recycling bin
  • Containers should be no larger than 4 litres.

The 10 worst things that should never go in your recycling bin

When we put the wrong things in our kerbside recycling bin, these materials must be separated out and sent to local landfills for disposal where gate fees apply - a costly exercise for both ratepayers and the environment. 

Councillor Hills says we should try to make sure none of these items ever end up in our recycling bin:

  1. Soft plastics, such as plastic bags and bubble wrap
  2. Food scraps
  3. Green/garden waste
  4. Bags of rubbish
  5. Nappies
  6. Recyclables contaminated with food or liquid
  7. Clothing and shoes and bedding/towels/rags/other household linen
  8. Carpet/rugs/mats
  9. Medical waste
  10. Batteries, electrical appliances, and electronics
“Broken glassware and glass cookware should also never go in our recycling bins.  These items should be carefully wrapped and placed in the kerbside rubbish bin.  We especially urge people to keep flammable and explosive items, like car batteries and lithium-ion batteries, electronics, and electrical appliances, out of their recycling bins. They pose a significant risk in our recycling trucks, especially when the compaction equipment is used,” says Parul Sood, Auckland Council’s General Manager Waste Solutions.

Become a recycling legend

Aucklanders can play council's fun online Recycle Right game to discover if they’re a recycling legend by swiping left and right to choose whether items should go in the rubbish bin or recycling bin.

Recycle Right

You can also direct your recycling questions to Auckland Council’s friendly recycling chatbot, Binny, on Facebook Messenger or download the free Binny app at the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Auckland Council's recycling search tool is a great place to start if people are unsure as to whether an item can be recycled or not.