I went because I was interested in learning more about cloth nappies, but she also inspired me to think a bit harder about other household waste. One of the most compelling things she said was that if a load of recycling was contaminated with something messy, say food waste, that the whole load could end up going to landfill because it's just not viable to clean everything.
While we want to reduce our waste as much as possible we're easily confused - we thought we couldn't put pizza boxes in because they had food on them, and the recent news about plastic bags had us thinking we couldn't put those into our recycling bin, but here in Wellington we can (but Aucklanders can't).
It turns out it's not just us: confusion is rife, and easily explainable because what you can recycle varies a lot across different regions. Here are a few important tips which will help ensure your household recycling is actually getting recycled.
- All recycling must be clean, as if it's not it can contaminate the load (and unclean items won't be recycled anyway). It's also hand sorted, so pretty gross for the sorters if you don't wash it!
- Items should be loose inside the bin or bag.
- Plastics should have a recycle symbol on them and a number - which numbers are
- accepted varies by region although many regions now take all numbers from 1-7. Check with your council if you're not sure.
- Styrofoam meat trays can't be recycled here. Some supermarkets are moving to recyclable trays, though!
- Pizza boxes are okay so long as pizza scraps are removed (we've had a few debates here about this).
- Glass must not be broken, and generally only glass jars and bottles from consumables are accepted (not kitchenware or other household glass).
|The plastic recycling categories|
Recycling in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
And if nothing else I've learnt a few things. For one, I've always put plastic milk bottle lids in the recycling - turns out that in Wellington they should go in the rubbish. Oops!
Are you surprised by any of this? Are there any other important pointers that I've missed?
Sources: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch City Council websites; The Nappy Lady; Wellington City Council Waste Education Team