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Plastic 5s - now being recycled!

Locals will be able to recycle more from this week, with grade 5 plastics now able to be recycled as part of kerbside collection and at transfer stations. As with all recycling - for these to be collected and recycled, they must be clean and have their lids removed.

Frequently asked questions

What are examples of 5s?
Common grade 5 plastics include ice cream containers, 1L yoghurt tubs, margarine containers, medicine bottles and takeaway containers.

Why aren’t lids recyclable?
Small lids and caps must be removed as these fall through the machines. Removing lids also applies to larger, grade 5 plastics (e.g. ice cream container lids), as these are flat, and the machine that sorts the recycling will mistake them for paper.  

Will they actually be recycled, or stored and sent to landfill ?
Plastics grade 1, 2 and 5 can be processed in New Zealand. Grades 3, 4, 6 and 7 are a much bigger problem as they are very difficult to recycle. These are currently all being sent to landfill.

If grade 5 can be recycled here, why had we stopped collecting it? 
Until recently, the Material Recovery Facility (where recycling is sorted) could only mechanically sort 1 and 2. Everything else was sold ‘mixed’, and largely sent to China. When China stopped accepting recycling from other countries, this created a big problem for New Zealand, and most of what had previously been sent off-shore has since been going to landfill. Government, Councils and the waste industry have all been looking for better long term solutions for waste management in NZ. This has led to government investing in Material Recovery Facilities, and our MRF has been upgraded to include an additional sorting line, which means we can now sort and recycle 5s.