21 things to stop putting in your recycling bin in 2021

Published on 06 September 2021


Ever hover over your bins and wonder whether the item in your hand should go into the recycling bin or rubbish bin? Well, we're here to make it easy for you.

Here's our list of the top 21 things we want you to stop putting in your recycling bin.

1. Takeaway coffee cups and lids: These aren't recyclable. Some coffee cups can be composted, but not in a home compost as the heat doesn't get to the level required. Check with your local café to see what service they provide.
2. Lids from drinks: Lids from milk bottles, wine bottles, beer bottles and soft drink bottles – whatever the bottle, we don't want the lid. Lids damage our sorting machines and are extremely hard to find a recycler for. We're expecting the government to make this a nationwide change when it standardises the rules. Make the switch today.


3. Nappies, wet wipes and tissues: They're obviously not recyclable, so put them where they belong – your rubbish bin.

4. Unwashed containers: By the time your items get to our sorting facility they could have been in your wheelie bin for two weeks. Pretty disgusting for our sorting crew, eh? Please rinse them thoroughly under warm water.

5. Sticking plasters, dressings, tubes: There's one simple rule to follow – if your bodily fluids are on it or touch it then we don't want it anywhere near our team. Pop it in a bag and put it in your rubbish bin.

6. Needles/syringes: These must go into a sharps bin! Please protect our team and do the right thing – never put them in your recycling bin.

7. Sour cream and cream cheese containers: Unfortunately these types of containers are made of a plastic that can't be recycled here in New Zealand.


8. Six-pack yoghurt pottles: These aren't recyclable.

9. Scrunchable plastic: A general rule of thumb is that if you can scrunch the plastic in your hands and it decreases in size then it is a soft plastic and not recyclable. Unfortunately this includes a lot of what our food comes in, including chips, biscuits, pasta, rice, cereal, snack wrappers etc.

10. Cardboard drink cartons: Soy milk, almond milk, juice etc. These are made from a mix of materials so can't be recycled. For those of you who can make the switch to a plastic container, that'd be great!

11. Glass makeup and skincare containers: This glass isn't made the same way as glass that holds food and drink, and we can't recycle it.

12. Toothbrushes: We don't recycle them in our facility.

13. Straws: These pesky little takeaway additions cause a nightmare in our sorting facility – they get stuck in some of our machines, and are simply too light to recycle. Switch to a metal or silicone straw instead.


14. Glad Wrap and sandwich bags: These items are a soft plastic and can't be recycled.

15. Baby food and yoghurt pouches: These are made of a combination of materials so can't be recycled.

16. Aerosols: Deodorant, sunscreen, hairspray, fly spray etc – these are tricky to recycle as they contain a couple of different materials.

17. Lightbulbs: These are made of a different type of glass to food and drink that can't be recycled. They belong in your rubbish.

18. Electronics packaging: Check the number first. If it's a 1, 2 or 5 then you can put it in your recycling, but most of these cases can't be recycled in New Zealand.

19. Bread tags: These plastic tags damage our sorting machines. We don't recycle them but you can donate them to the charity Bread Tags for Wheelchairs through Environment Network Manawatū.

20. Clothing: This doesn't go in your recycling bin, but if it's in good condition you can sell or donate it.

21. Receipts: Tiny little bits of paper get stuck in our sorting machine. Pop these in your compost instead.