Plastics 1, 2 & 5 - FAQs
What are the most common types of plastic types #1 and #2?
Plastics type #1 (PET)
PET is one of the easiest plastics to recycle and therefore has good market value. It is most commonly used for soft drink and water bottles, and for a wide range of clear and coloured drink bottles. Other uses are common household items including a wide range of plastic jars, cleaning containers, personal care bottles, some meat trays, punnets for berries and tomatoes and plastic clam shells for muffins and baked goods.
Plastics type #2 (HDPE)
Plastic #2 HDPE is also easy to recycle. It is most commonly used for milk and cream bottles, some ice-cream containers, juice bottles, shampoo, cleaning and detergent bottles.
How do I know if a plastic product is recyclable or not?
The easiest way to check if an item is recyclable or not is to look for the numbered triangle. If it says 1, 2, or 5 add the plastic container to your recycling
If the number is a 3, 4, 6 or 7 then it needs to go into your rubbish bin. Sometimes plastics don’t have a number on them. These are unidentified plastics and also need to go into your rubbish bin.
It is really important to check each item because there is no hard and fast rules around which items are type 1, 2 or 5. For example, yogurt pots can be made from plastics #5 or #6 while some biscuit trays can be a #1 or #3.
Can my recycling end up in landfill?
Unfortunately yes, sometimes recycling ends up in landfill. The most common reasons for this is due to high concentrations of non-recyclable items and contamination such as food waste mixed in with otherwise good recycling. Even in cases where contamination can be dealt with at the sorting facility, it is sometimes more economically-feasible to divert contaminated loads to landfill. The cost of processing contaminated loads is more expensive, and in some cases outweighs profits from materials that can be recycled.
Will my rates for recycling go down if I can only recycle plastics 1,2 & 5?
No, plastic types 3, 4, 6 & 7 only make up a small percentage of the plastics recycled in Waipā so removing these plastics from the recycling collection will not provide any cost savings per household.
How can I find out more about going plastic free entirely?
There are lots of ways you can go plastics free or start the journey. You can join “Zero Waste in NZ” on Facebook for lots of great tips and ideas or follow our local waste minimisation heroines Nic on Instagram at mainstreamgreen and Katie on Instagram zerobelowbykatie.
You can check out a local shopping guide put together by the two No-waste Nomads – Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince https://therubbishtrip.co.nz/regional-shopping-guide/zero-waste-in-waipa-and-matamata-piako/.
You can also follow the Waipā District Council’s Facebook page as we often promote waste minimisation events we are funding or running.
Google alternatives to specific products you use that can be handmade. If your favourite yoghurt is in a #6 container, try making your own. https://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/homemade-yoghurt/822/.
Are other Councils in New Zealand collecting plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7 ?
Some councils have only ever accepted plastics 1 & 2. As there is no longer a market demand for plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 other councils have recently stopped collecting these plastics, including Taupo District, Whakatane District and Nelson City Councils.
What happens if I put plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7 in my recycling bin?
It’s important to only place plastics 1, 2 & 5 and other correct types of recycling into your recycling bins. Plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7 and other non-recyclable materials will cause contamination. Although the local recycling sorting facility has staff that manually remove non-recyclables, it is not always cost effective to do this. If the recycling loads contain a significant amount of non-recyclable plastics and other contamination, it could mean these loads will end up going straight to landfill.
What are the recycling options for plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7?
Unfortunately there is very little options for these lower value plastics in Waipā except for the landfill. It’s important you are only placing plastics 1, 2 & 5 and other correct types of recycling into your recycling bins as these plastics are high quality and easy to recycle and make into new products.
Will there be a market for plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7 in the future?
No, it is unlikely there will be a change in the markets for these lower value plastics in the foreseeable future.
What are the most common types for plastics 3, 4, 6 & 7 ?
Plastic #3 or Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) is generally used for biscuit and cracker trays and also a small range of other packaging such as some takeaway food packaging.
Plastic #4 or Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is often used for products such as tomato ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce squeeze bottles.
Plastic type #6 or Polystyrene (PS) is often used for products such as moulded packaging for electronics and foamed meat trays. Other examples are yoghurt and soft cheese pottles such as sour cream, cottage cheese and sushi and pie trays.
Plastic type #7 or Plastic Composition – Other includes all other plastics not included in categories 1 to 6 and is used for a range of packaging e.g. fresh pasta packaging, PLA or plant based plastics, sliced meat packaging and many others.
Should I avoid purchasing products or packaging made from these plastics?
Yes if you can. These low grade plastics are known as problematic plastics as most have potentially toxic chemicals and they are much harder to be reused or recycled. Plastic #3 polystyrene, #6 polyurethane and polycarbonate are considered as the most problematic.