How to recycle the ‘unrecyclable’ for free in New Zealand

This week is Recycling Week in New Zealand and it’s the ideal time to have a look at what you are chucking in the bin, and think about whether it really needs to go to landfill. 

It can be tricky sorting out your items between charity, recycling and landfill, but to get you in the habit of recycling beyond your council collection bin, we have outlined a few common household items that you may not have known that you can recycle for free in New Zealand.

Toothbrushes: Most people will go through about 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. In an effort to curb the amount of oral care waste heading to landfill, Colgate have partnered with TerraCycle to recycle them for free, along with toothpaste tubes and floss containers. This simple recycling solution could save an estimated 30 million plastic toothbrushes from ending up in landfill every year. That’s 900 tonnes of plastic we could save from entering our environment. Plus, through the Colgate Community Garden Challenge, schools that recycle the most oral care can win a recycled garden set.

Pens: Recycling all your writing instruments has been made easy thanks to TerraCycle and BiC. Simply drop them off at a Community Collection Hub for people in your area. Recycling through this programme could save an estimated 700 tonnes of pens from landfills across the country.

Plastic razors: Kiwis go through millions of disposable razors each year and up until now they have all ended up in landfill because they are too complicated to recycle. Thanks to a new program launched with Gillette, plastic razors and their packaging can now be recycled in New Zealand for free. You can search for Community Collection Hub on the map on the TerraCycle website or sign up to become one yourself.

Coffee capsules: Research from 2019 revealed that New Zealanders love a caffeine fix: 70 per cent drink at least one coffee per day and 25 per cent have more than one hit. That’s a lot of coffee capsules potentially heading into landfill! Luckily there are several TerraCycle programmes you can recycle through, depending on your preferred brand: Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Lór Moccona, illy & Jed’s or Láffare. All the programs are free – simply join online and download free labels.

Food storage: Food storage bags and containers are one of the trickiest items when it comes to deciding whether they can be recycled or not. Glad has taken the guess-work out of recycling by accepting all brands of snap lock, slide and freezer bags, cling wrap and polypropylene food storage containers in the TerraCycle recycling programme.

Skincare product packaging: Most people associate recycling with kitchen items, but think about setting up a recycling bin in your bathroom as well. You can recycle all brands of facial skincare through the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle: plastic bottles, tubes, pots, lids, droppers, and pumps!

Balloons: New Zealanders are justifiably proud of their natural environment, but how often do you see balloons left on the ground after a celebration? Zuru Bunch O Balloons offer a free recycling program for their used stems, balloon pieces and balloon packaging . 

For information on how to participate in any of the free recycling programmes mentioned above, head to the TerraCycle website.

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