Recycle or not?

Recycling is an easy way to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, but it’s essential that we take the time to do this right.

Dirty food containers

Never put food or unwashed items in your recycling bin. Doing so could make the other items dirty – which means they could all be sent to landfill. Recycling systems are designed to process recyclables that have been rinsed clean – so make sure you take a moment to wash that baked beans can, plastic food container or empty shampoo bottle before you pop it in the recycling bin.

Non grocery household items, eg. broken furniture, old clothes and toys

As a general rule, only ‘grocery’ items can be recycled via your kerbside recycling collection (check your council website for specific rules on what can and can’t be recycled). Items like broken furniture, old clothes and kids toys cannot go in your recycling bin. If you are doing a clean out, consider if these items can be repaired, donated or sold.


Electronic items like microwaves, laptops and mobile phones should never go in your kerbside recycling bin. If the items are still in good working condition, you may be able to donate them to your local charity store, but always check with them first. Some electronic items can be recycled through e-waste services. Find out how to recycle these items in your area by visiting your local council website.

Hard plastics 

Check with your local council which plastics they can recycle and whether you should keep the lids on and squash items before you recycle. Different councils have different rules – so it’s important to find out what applies in your local area.


Biodegradable items are never recyclable as they are designed to break down (ie, degrade). Biodegradables should go in the rubbish bin unless they are compostable. For all compostable items, check whether they can be composted at home or need to be sent to a commercial composting facility (to be composted at a high temperature). You will need to check that your local commercial composting facility takes compostable packaging and if they don’t, you’ll need to pop these items in the rubbish bin.

New Zealand currently has limited commercial composting facilities, so it pays to check whether the item or packaging is only commercially compostable before you buy.

Find out how to be a pro recycler in three easy steps

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Recycle or not