7 surprising things you can recycle
We’ve all done it—tossed the odd questionable pizza box, disposable coffee cup, or sauce-laden can into our recycling bin hoping that it’ll end up in the right place.
All of our ‘I think this is could be recycling? Eh, I’ll chuck it in’ items contaminate the rest of our recycling, which then goes to landfill. While it’s tempting to chuck things in the blue bin for the metaphorical pat on the back, we’ve got to stop.
Everything in your recycling is sorted by a human pair of hands, not a machine. Aucklanders, please spare a thought for that human before putting an any more car engines, toilets, or dirty nappies in with the rest, says the Council. They’re not super fun to pick out.
Paul Evans, chief executive of waste management industry body WasteMinz, said in 2018 that about 10 per cent of each Auckland household’s recycling bin was “contamination” – items that people had put in hoping for the best, but which could not be recycled.
TOOTHBRUSHES AND TOOTHPASTE TUBES
TerraCycle is a global waste management organisation that specialises in “recycling the non-recyclable.” TerraCycle offers a range of free programmes that are funded by conscientious companies, as well as recycling solutions available for purchase for almost every form of waste.
They partner with major consumer product companies, retailers, small businesses and individuals across 20 different countries.
Every plastic toothbrush you’ve sent to landfill in your lifetime still exists. Colgate and TerraCycle are trying to provide a second life for toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, toothpaste caps, floss containers and their outer packaging materials.
METAL, ELECTRIC APPLIANCES & E-WASTE
If your appliances and tech are beyond Trade Me or pawning off to a younger family member, don’t worry. There are a growing number of local recyclers who will happily take (or even purchase) your old whiteware and electronic scrap. Investigate who is doing this in your area, or ask on the friendly Zero Waste NZ Facebook page.
* Endless Metals operate in North Shore, Pukekohe, Onehunga and Napier.
* Auckland-based GoRecycle and Appliance Recycling both take a wide range of materials. Calvin Leonard and the team can assist with these types of recycling
- Electronic Waste Recycling – E waste Drop Off
- TV Recycling
- Appliance Removal Service – Recycling Pickups
- Car Battery Recycling
- Computer Recycling
Unused medicines should never be flushed down the loo, or put in the rubbish bins. Pills need to be professionally incinerated so their chemicals don’t enter our soil or waterways, where they can endanger marine life.
All pharmacies across Auckland, in collaboration with Auckland, Waitemata, and Counties Manukau District Health Boards, offer a free, safe collection and disposal service for unwanted and out-of-date medicines through the Dispose of Unwanted Medicine Properly (DUMP) project. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medicines, sharp items such as needles and cytotoxic (chemotherapy) drugs.
You can give old prescriptions back to your local pharmacy, and even encourage them to “recycle” the medicine by passing it along to others. Christchurch-based charity Medical Aid Abroad accepts all unused, undamaged and in-date medicines from around NZ, and redistributes them to developing countries as needed.
Bras are one clothing item most of us are more likely to toss than to take to the second-hand shop. In some countries they’re a commodity women simply can’t afford. If you have bras you no longer use (and they’re in reasonable condition), take them to one of the Uplift NZ‘s drop off points so they can live a second life in Fiji, Tonga, the Soloman Islands, or Bali rather than lanquish in a landfill.
COFFEE MACHINE CAPSULES
New Zealand is ranked the 13th highest consumer of coffee per capita in the world. More than half of Kiwis “will go out of their way to find a good cup of coffee,” found a 2015 Canstar survey. In fact, nearly half of Wellingtonians surveyed said they refused to start their day without one.
If capsules are your caffeine vehicle of choice, then yup – you guessed it, they can be recycled. The aluminium pods need to be separated from their residual coffee, which becomes compost. Recycled aluminium produces new capsules and other products.
Is leftover paint sitting in your garage right now?
Resene’s scheme has already recycled 400,000kg of steel and 200,000kg of plastic, as well as recovering 500,000 litres of solvent-borne paint.
Zero Waste Week data showed more than 120 billion beauty packages were produced in 2018. Nearly all of them were single-use.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Netherlands-based group LCA Centre found that if refillable containers were used for cosmetics, up to 70 per cent of carbon emissions associated with the beauty industry could be eliminated.
An increasing number of ‘naked’, locally-made beauty products have entered the market in response to our demand for less plastic. If you’re open to eco-swapping (switching out a product for a more eco-friendly alternative) then these are the NZ names to look for.
A number of brands also offer their own recycling reward programmes. M.A.C will swap six empty containers for free lipstick and Lush exchanges five for a fresh face mask.
Olay begins trialling their top-selling Regenerist Whip moisturiser in refillable containers this October, a move which is projected to divert 453,000kg of plastic from landfill. Good stuff, guys.