More than 150 tonnes of recycling was sent straight to Wellington's Southern Landfill during the two weeks the capital was at alert level 4.
Glass recycling wasn't collected at all during lockdown, but plastics, cardboard and cans were - they were just taken to the landfill rather than the recycling plant.
This is because recycling is sorted by hand, so the plant was closed to protect workers.
Wellington City Council waste operations manager Emily Taylor-Hall said 152.86 tonnes of recycling was taken to the landfill as a result.
Kerbside recycling has resumed under alert level 3.
But unfortunately, when the Seaview recycling plant reopened this week, staff were greeted by 28 insulin needles on the sorting belt.
Wellington City Council said on social media this presented a serious health and safety risk to workers and backed up the processing of materials as the sorting had to stop and get cleared.
"The culprit conveniently left their details in the recycling bag too, so we will be having a few words with them very soon... Please don't be that person Pōneke," the council posted on Twitter.
No extra trucks or staff have been required to deal with recycling coming back online at this stage, despite the two-week hiatus, Taylor-Hall said.
"What the collectors are finding is that fewer people were presenting their recycling at the kerbside, maybe just getting into the routine of putting glass out, or sleeping in and missing their collection slot, but more volume from those that did put it out."
Some of the glass trucks did two loads to the recycling sorting plant because of the volume, but day 1 collections were still completed on time, Taylor-Hall said.
It's a very different situation to the aftermath of last year's nationwide lockdown when Wellington City Council didn't start recycling again until alert level 2.
A deluge of stockpiled recycling hit the streets.
Taylor-Hall said they decided to start earlier this time around with the benefit of hindsight from 2020.
For example, additional measures have been introduced at the Seaview sorting facility to allow operations to safely resume under level 3.
These include perspex screens between workers, the use of high-grade masks, and a new optical machine sorter for plastics that reduces the need for as many staff on site.
Glass recycling is also being collected again in level 3, but bottles are not being sorted into colours at the kerbside like they usually are.
"The Delta variant is much more transmissible from the first round, and glass recycling is predominantly bottles, many of which carry saliva residue," the council has previously said.
Taylor-Hall said the Auckland recycling facility, where the glass is sent to, is making do with receiving mixed loads of glass in the meantime.