What happens to our waste?

Ever wondered what happens once we take your rubbish and recycling off your hands? Wonder no more.


Our waste audits in 2022 revealed that Palmy sends 55,000 tonnes of waste to landfill. But almost half of this was potentially divertible - meaning it could have been composted, recovered, reused or recycled instead.

We collect rubbish from Palmy residents who use our Council rubbish bags. This makes up roughly one-third of the city. The rest is collected by private companies. Our rubbish service is user pays, rather than something that affects your rates.

While we used to have a landfill, or dump, we no longer have an operating one. Instead our rubbish trucks take waste to the Envirowaste transfer station on Matthews Ave, and they truck everything to their landfill in Marton.

Did you know that people who use rubbish bags create far less waste than people with wheelie-bins?

A graphic shows proportions of material type in kerbside collections   


Your recycling comes from your home to our recycling centre in Awapuni, where it is sorted, baled and then prepared to be sent off for recycling. These videos show our sorting process for your orange-lid wheelie bin and glass.

Watch: This is what we do with your wheelie-bin recycling (above) and glass recycling (below).

Where to from there?

All of your recycling is recycled here in Aotearoa. Neat, eh?!

Its next location after our sorting process depends on what it is.

Paper and cardboard

Some of the fibre collected is recycled into cardboard boxes in Auckland (OJI). Some is made into fruit trays and egg cartons in Hawke's Bay (Hawk Packaging). Both these companies may also send some fibre overseas. However this market is in increasing jeopardy due to proposed amendments to the Basel Convention.


Glass can be recycled over and over again. Glass collected in Palmy is taken to Visy's plant in Auckland. Contamination such as labels and neck rings is removed before it's recycled into new bottles at OI, also in Auckland.

We partner with the local and family-owned companies, Higgins Concrete and Hirock Quarries to recycle our mixed waste glass. Its transformed into a valuable resource, by crushing and using it as an aggregate in concrete, roads and footpaths.


  • Number 1: Clear PET (water bottles, soft drink bottles) gets sent to Flight Plastics in Wellington to be made into a variety of recycled packaging products, including meat trays.
  • Number 2: Clear HDPE is recycled here in Palmerston North by Aotearoa NZ Made and is used in various applications including irrigation pipe. Coloured plastics are recycled into black rubbish bags that are used to line the city's street bins.
  • Number 5: Palmy is lucky to have a local recycler (Aotearoa NZ Made) to process polypropylene. It's used by a Whanganui manufacturer to make a variety of bins. Some is also used as an alternative to steel as concrete reinforcement.


Our local metal recycling broker Macauley Metals arranges recycling of some steel on shore, and some gets sent overseas.


This is currently our most valuable commodity. Some is recycled locally, and some is sent offshore. Macauley Metals is our broker.


These are collected by our contractor E-cycle who send them offshore to be processed. E-cycle comply with Basel and Stockholm conventions regarding international shipment of hazardous material. Components from different types of batteries are recovered in different ways for a variety of repurposing. This website gives some examples of how batteries are recycled.

Car batteries

These are collected by a local company, Dominion Trading. Used car batteries are sent to lead recycling plants in the Pacific, under Basel Convention terms.


This is collected by our contractor E-cycle. E-waste dropped off to Ferguson St is sent to Auckland where it is dismantled. Valuable commodities such as gold and copper are retrieved. However some components, like the plastic housing, are unable to be recycled and must be sent to landfill.

Motor oil

This is collected by ExOil and the waste oil is used in bitumen.


Our contractor 3R arranges for these to be recycled. Carseats are dismantled and polypropylene, metal, and webbing straps are retrieved and recycled or repurposed.

Cooking oil

Refined in Wellington and used in as biofuel, and also incorporated into animal food and cosmetics. We use vat oil for this, but there are a number of local companies who arrange this.

Chemical waste

Our contractor for chemical waste is 3R. There are a variety of different chemicals collected which need to be processed in different ways depending on their active ingredients. Chemicals processed onshore are stabilised before being sent to landfill. Materials sent overseas (to France) are disposed of via a high temperature incineration plant. Some are processed onshore and some offshore.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs

Collected by B&M Electrical, taken to a warehouse that has a special machine for disposing of fluorescent lightbulbs.


Concrete can be dropped off to Central Environmental (in Feilding) where it is crushed and used as aggregate.

Tetra Pak

Once you drop off your used cartons and containers to our recycling centre on Ferguson Street, we send them to SaveBOARD’s manufacturing plant in Hamilton. These items are then turned into low-carbon building materials.

Spotlight on Palmy's Aotearoa NZ Made

Aotearoa NZ Made recycles some of your plastics, right here in Palmy. Its owner, Kevin Joe gave us an insight into the business.

"We recycle plastics for some of New Zealand's largest companies who were previously landfilling their recycling because no one was interested in reprocessing it or exporting it.

"We're a Palmerston North based manufacturer, with two sites located around the city. We currently operate 24 hours a day, six days a week with a team of 25. Our factory is 1,000sqm and our raw material warehouse/storage is a 7,000 sqm building and we have yard space of 15,000 sqm.

"Our business is focused on reprocessing post-consumer plastic. Mainly milk and detergent bottles, ice cream and yoghurt containers and plastic film sourced from Palmerston North City Council and other preferred suppliers from around the North Island.

"Once we've reprocessed the recycled materials into granules, we use them in our own manufacturing or sell to other companies for making their own products. Currently we send out approximately 2,000 tonnes per year of granules, damp proof film and rubbish bags, all manufactured from recycled materials.

"Rubbish bags are manufactured on site. They're made up of 80% reprocessed LDPE (pallet wrap and coloured film) and 20% reprocessed HDPE (detergent, shampoo and laundry liquid bottles, 5l and 20l containers etc). Clear bags are made from reprocessed clear granules.

"The advantages of buying a New Zealand-made product is that it helps reduce the carbon footprint, and uses a recycled material which would otherwise be exported or landfilled. Major companies are now very conscious of their own carbon footprint and effects on the environment from their plastic waste. They want to know about the process and the eventual products that the recycled material is made into so they can tell that story to their customers."