Significant changes in international waste recycling markets mean the Whakatāne District Council's kerbside recycling service will no longer be collecting grade 3 to 7 plastics.

From June 1 only grades 1 and 2 plastics should be placed in yellow-top recycling bins and all other grades should be placed in general refuse bins.

The change has affected other cities and towns such as Hastings, Napier, Gisborne, Oamaru, Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt.

Whakatāne Council Solid Waste Manager Nigel Clarke said the change was regretted.


"The recycling markets that previously took our grades 3-7 plastics are no longer open to us, there is no practical alternative available.

"Plastic grade information is generally located on the bottom of packaging items, so residents are asked to check their plastic waste and look for the triangular recycling symbols," Clarke said.

"Grades 1 and 2, which include items like plastic drink and milk bottles, should still be recycled. The other plastic grades, which include widely-used items like plastic bags, ice cream containers, yogurt pots, and some takeaway containers, should ideally be reused, or alternatively, be placed in the green, general waste wheelie bins."

Clarke said the change in practice had been forced upon the council's solid waste contractor, Waste Management NZ, because major markets such as China and Malaysia were no longer accepting grades 3 to 7 plastics.

"Local and central Government are looking to create a viable and sustainable use of grades 3 to 7 plastics, but realistically, that could take some time to achieve. In the meantime, we have no choice but to send these grades to landfill," Clarke said.

Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon. Photo / Supplied
Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon. Photo / Supplied

"We appreciate that some people may be worried about fitting extra waste their general refuse bins and suggest that grades 3 to 7 items that cannot be reused for other purposes should be flattened so that they take up less space."

Clarke said changing consumer habits could also help.

"If you're buying a product in plastic packaging, check the grade of plastic first and if it can't be recycled, look for an alternative product in the same price range, or consider bulk purchasing in reusable containers."


Households and businesses will soon receive a sticker explaining the new system, to put on their recycling bin lids. Stickers will be delivered in the week beginning May 27.

Meanwhile, the Glass Packaging Forum, which runs the country's only accredited product stewardship scheme for container glass, is appealing to the public to remember glass is one of the most easily recyclable packaging materials.

Forum manager Dominic Salmon said glass bottles and jars were recycled here in New Zealand.

"People should absolutely continue to recycle them as throwing glass in landfill is a huge waste of resources. Glass also never breaks down in a landfill."