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What do the plastic recycling numbers mean?

When you buy something in plastic, it should have a triangle with a number inside it. This indicates what type of plastic it is, and helps us to determine what can and can't be recycled.

It can be really hard to tell from holding an item what it’s made of, and we know that can make recycling very confusing – but we love that you’ve come to this page to find out how to do the right thing.

We’re really proud to let you know that the significant portion of what you put in your recycling bin is recycled right here in New Zealand, and some of it here in Palmy!

In the past, our mixed plastics have been recycled overseas, but currently no one is taking this type of plastic. We’ve been continuing to collect this recycling and have been storing it at our Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre. You can read more about this here: Recycling review.

See below for a brief explanation of what the numbers are, what plastic materials they are, and what common items you use might be made of them. It also says where they currently go once we’ve emptied your wheelie bin.

Glass that once contained food or drink, aluminium, tin, paper and cardboard are all sorted at our Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre and recycled here in NZ.

Number 1: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 1.

Collected, sorted at our Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre and then recycled in NZ.

Items include:

  • fruit and vege punnets
  • soft drink and water bottles
  • harder plastic containers that hold spreads like peanut butter and mayonnaise.

Number 2: High-density polyethylene (HDPE) 

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 2.

Collected, sorted at our Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre and then recycled in Palmy.

  • milk bottles
  • juice bottles
  • shampoo bottles
  • cleaning bottles.

Number 3: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 3.

Collected and stored at Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre.

Items include:

  • clear trays for holding food or takeaways
  • some large containers with sturdy handles
  • plastic containers used for storing or packaging things like batteries or electronics.

Number 4: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 4.

Collected and stored at Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre.

  • some meat trays and takeaway containers
  • single use plastic bags
  • bubble wrap
  • plastic wrap.

Number 5: Polypropylene (PP) 

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 5.

Collected, sorted at our Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre and then recycled in Palmy.

  • some takeaway containers
  • plastic cutlery
  • 2l ice cream containers
  • large yoghurt containers.

Number 6: Polystyrene (PS/EPS) 

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 6.

Collected and stored at Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre.

  • 6pk yoghurt pottles
  • some meat trays
  • foam cups
  • protective packaging.

Number 7: Other plastics

Photo shows plastic recycling symbol number 7.

This is a mix of different plastics, including BPA, polycarbonate, acrylic, nylon, polylactic fibres and fibreglass. We collect and store these items at Awapuni Resource Recovery Centre.

  • baby bottles and sippy cups
  • CDs
  • plastic toys
  • packaging for some food and electronics.