It’s the beginning of February, and you know what that means? 

What’s that? Oh, s#!t, we’d forgotten about Valentine’s Day! Actually, we were referring to how the recycling rules in New Zealand have changed, as of the 1st of February! 

At Pink Bins, we strive to make waste management easy for Aucklanders. Need a skip bin to get rid of the junk on your job site? Hire a Pink Bin. Need a skip bag to clear out your garage so that your car fits in it again? Purchase a Pink Bag. Want to know more about how to manage your waste? Read on! 

What Do The Recycle Numbers Mean on Plastic Packaging in NZ?

Up until the beginning of this month, each council within New Zealand decided what they would and wouldn’t accept to be recycled at their local facilities. Now the whole country has the same set of rules, which should make it much less confusing, especially when the in-laws come to visit from out of town. 

If you’ve read our blog before, you know that we are advocates for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste but, what are the recycling numbers actually code for? And what numbers can you recycle in NZ now that the rules have changed? 

Because we care about keeping New Zealand clean and green, and we need everyone to chip in to do that, we wanna make sure you know exactly what to do with your recycling! Of course, you can still put glass bottles and jars, tin, steel and aluminium cans, paper, and cardboard in your recycling, but what about plastics? 

Most plastics have a number within a triangle somewhere on them, and that’ll tell you what to do with it. Let’s review them and see what numbers can you recycle in NZ.

Recycle no. 1

PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is one of the most commonly used plastics in consumer products. Think water and drink bottles, and some packaging. PETE plastic is recyclable. If you pop it in your recycling bin, it’ll get crushed and then shredded into small flakes which are then reprocessed to make new PETE bottles, or spun into polyester fibre and used to make textiles such as fleece garments, carpets, stuffing for pillows and life jackets, etc.

Recycle no. 2

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is a stiff (stiffy count: 1) plastic used to make milk, detergent and oil bottles, toys, picnic tables, plastic lumber, waste bins, park benches, raised veggie beds, truck bed liners and other products which require durability and weather-resistance. This stuff is very hard-wearing and particularly resistant to sunlight and extreme temperatures. It is reusable and relatively simple and cost-effective to recycle so definitely chuck it in your recycling bin.

Recycle grade no. 3

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is a soft, flexible plastic used to make clear food wrapping, cooking oil bottles, teething rings, children and pet toys, and blister packaging. PVC is relatively impervious to sunlight and weather, and is therefore used for window frames, garden hoses, plastic pipes and plumbing parts, raised beds and trellises. PVC plastic products are not recyclable, so once they can no longer be reused, they’ll have to go to the landfill.

Recycle grade no. 4

LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) is considered to be less toxic than other plastics, so you’ll see it used in shrink wraps, dry cleaner garment bags, squeezable bottles, and bread packaging. Products made using LDPE plastic are reusable, but not always recyclable, and can’t be put in your council bin.

Recycle grade no. 5

Number 5 Polypropylene Plastic or PP plastic is one of the most versatile plastics available! Read: all the b!+c#es love it! 

Its balance of stiffness (stiffy count: 2), and impact, heat and chemical resistance make it one of the most widely used packaging resins and, you guessed it, we wanna recycle the heck out of that, so yeet it in your council bin!

Recycle grade no. 6

PS (Polystyrene) is an inexpensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic, often used for disposable styrofoam, picnic cutlery and “peanut” foam chips used to fill boxes to protect the contents. 

You’ve probably noticed it being used less and less so, you guessed it, keep this out of your recycling bin!

Recycle grade no. 7

The number 7 category was designed as a catch-all for BPA, PC (Polycarbonate) and LEXAN. You don’t see a lot of this around these days, but if you do, do not put it in your recycling

What do the recycling changes mean for you? 

Now that we have this new, nationwide, fandangle recycling system, here’s what you can put in your recycling bin:

  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Stiff (stiffy count: 3) plastic bottles, trays, and containers (grades 1, 2 and 5 only)
  • Tin, steel and aluminium cans

Here’s what you can’t put in your recycling bin:

  • Items less than 50mm (e.g. caps, small cosmetic and spice containers)
  • Aerosol cans (steel and aluminium)
  • Liquid paperboard (beverage cartons and juice boxes)
  • Plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7
  • Aluminium foil and trays
  • All lids
  • Items over 4 litres

According to the Auckland Council, contamination costs Auckland ratepayers an extra $3 million per year in sorting and disposal. So, no matter what the number, it’s important to clean all of your recyclables thoroughly, and don’t put anything that can’t be recycled in your bin. 

Now that you know what to do, educate your coworkers, your family, and your friends, so that they can be tidy Kiwis too!

How can Pink Bins help?

If all of this seems like too much to remember, don’t stress! When you hire a Pink Bin, or fill a Pink Bag, all of your waste is sent to our purpose-built recycling facility where our team will go through everything you’ve thrown our way, take out anything that can be recycled, and responsibly dispose of anything that can’t be recycled. 

And, if you’re worried that all of this change will mean things you could previously recycle will be headed for your general rubbish bin, and there won’t be enough room, we’ve got you! Forget deciphering the recycling numbers, just send out the Bat-Signal *ahem* or just contact us through our website, and we’ll swoop in to save the day for you!