Know your plastics
In Waipā, only plastic types 1, 2 & 5 can be recycled. These are high value plastics such as milk bottles and soft drink bottles which can be easily recycled and turned into other useful products. A recent audit showed 87% of plastics were 1, 2 or 5.
Plastics types 3, 4, 6 & 7 are low value plastics which are frequently contaminated and are harder to recycle and make new products. These plastics should be avoided, reused or put into the rubbish bin.
Look for the triangle on a plastic container to see what type it is. If it numbered 3, 4, 6 or 7 or has no number then it is non-recyclable and should go into the rubbish bin.
Know your plastics
In 2019, WasteMINZ conducted the largest audit of recycling bins ever completed in New Zealand. As part of this audit, they looked at the types of plastics being put into recycling and what the most common plastic items were. Here is what they found.
#1, 2 & 5 - These go into your yellow mixed recycling bin.
#1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – RECYCLABLE
#1 PET is one of the easiest plastics to recycle and therefore the most valuable. The bin audit found more than 47 per cent of all plastic containers and bottles audited were plastic type #1.
PET is most commonly used for soft drink and water bottles - clear and coloured bottles - in a range of sizes. Other uses of PET include cleaning containers, personal care bottles, some meat trays, punnets for berries and tomatoes, and plastic clam shells for muffins and baked goods.
Check the recycling triangle to see if your plastics container is a #1. If it is, add it into your yellow mixed recycling bin.
#2. HDPE (High density polyethylene) – RECYCLABLE
Like PET, #2 HDPE is also easily recyclable. The audit found 28 per cent of plastics recycled were #2 plastic bottles and containers.
In the household setting, HDPE is most commonly used for dairy containers such as milk and cream bottles, and SOME ice-cream containers, juice bottles, shampoo, cleaning and detergent bottles.
Check the recycling triangle to see if your plastics container is a #2. If it is, add it into your yellow mixed recycling bin.
#5. PP (Polypropylene) – RECYCLABLE
PP is a hard but flexible plastic with waxy surface that is versatile and easy to recycle. Plastics #5 make up around 12 per cent of all recycled plastics.
In the household setting, #5 is predominantly used for a wide range of food packaging such as margarine containers, some yoghurt containers, take away containers, ice cream containers and dips. This packaging comes in many colours, including clear, black and white.
Check the recycling triangle to see if your plastics container is a #5. If it is, add it into your yellow mixed recycling bin.
#3, 4, 6 & 7 - These go into your rubbish bin.
#3 PVC (Plasticised Polyvinyl Chloride) – NON-RECYCLABLE
#3 PVC is a flexible, clear plastic which is very difficult to recycle. The audit found just 0.2 per cent of all plastics recycled were #3.
In the household setting, PVC is predominately used for biscuit and cracker trays. There are also a range of other types of packaging made from PVC such as some takeaway food packaging, blister packs and cosmetic containers.
All #3 plastics containers need to go into the rubbish bin.
#4 – Low-Density Polyethylene or LDPE – NON-RECYCLABLE
#4 LDPE is typically a soft, flexible, translucent plastic with a waxy surface. The audit found plastics #4 made up 0.38 per cent of all plastic recycled.
In the household setting, #4 is most commonly used as packaging for tomato ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce from a number of brands in squeeze bottles.
NOTE: Most soft plastic is also made from LDPE. Soft plastic has never been accepted in Waipā’s mixed recycling service.
All 4# plastic containers need to go into the rubbish bin.
#6. PS (Polystyrene) – NON-RECYCLABLE
Polystyrene is used in a range of packaging and can be foamed or not. Around 1.5 per cent of plastics recycled were #6.
The most common product sold in a #6 container, based on the audit, was yoghurt. The next most common product was soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese and sour cream. Containers such as sushi trays, pie trays, take away containers, and other trays including meat and biscuit trays can also be made from polystyrene.
NOTE: Foamed polystyrene such as styrofoam cups, foamed meat trays, take-away clam shells and protective packaging has never been accepted in Waipā’s mixed recycling service.
All 6# plastic containers need to go into the rubbish bin.
#7. Plastic Composition – Other (Composite) – NON-RECYCLABLE
Plastic #7 is made up of all other plastics not included in categories 1 to 6, or from mixed or multilayer plastics which are used for a range of packaging, including fresh pasta packaging, PLA products and sliced meat packaging. These plastics make up 0.93 per cent of plastics recycled.
If an item is a #7, it should be thrown into your rubbish bin.
A further 5.14 per cent of plastics audited were unidentifiable plastic containers and 2.57 were plastic bottle tops and loose lids.
If there is no number on a plastic container, it is non-recyclable and should go into the rubbish bin.
Look for the recycling number
Plastic items should always be carefully checked for a recycling number before they are put into your recycling bin. Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules on what is and isn’t a certain plastic type e.g. one yogurt manufacturer could use plastic #5 for their packaging while another could use #6.
Items to be wary of:
Plastic trays in particular should be checked. The audit found a variety of different types of plastic trays in the rubbish and recycling, including trays used for packaging meat, biscuits and crackers, pies, fresh herb etc. These trays are made from a variety of plastic types, including plastic #1 (PET), #3 (PVC), # 5 (PP), # 6 (PS), #7 (Other). Many trays do not include a recycling symbol with a number and were therefore classified as Unidentifiable containers.
All soft plastic needs to be removed from trays and placed into the rubbish.
TRIGGERS AND PUMPS
Some #1 containers and #2 containers have a trigger or a pump. Triggers and pumps are generally manufactured from a different plastic to the bottles they are fitted to and often have a metal spring. They therefore cannot be recycled and should be put into your rubbish bin.