From 1 July, plastic containers left in Nelson’s yellow recycling bins must have the number 1, 2 or 5 embossed in a triangle on them.

If you can’t see the number it’s usually on the base of the container.

Plastic types 1, 2 and 5 make up 85% of the plastic that New Zealanders buy, so the vast majority of plastic in Nelson will end up at the region’s sorting facility in Richmond, ready to be sent to processors in the North and South Islands.

Common items made out of plastics 1, 2 and 5 include milk bottles, clear drink bottles, meat trays (as long as they aren’t Styrofoam), cleaning products, ice cream tubs and clear takeaway containers.

Plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7, which only make up 15% of the plastic New Zealanders buy, are not recyclable in New Zealand.

While there are still some limited overseas markets for these plastics, shipping has an associated carbon footprint and Nelson City Council is concerned that there is no way of ensuring these plastics are actually recycled, meaning they could in fact end up in the world’s oceans and rivers.

Infrastructure chair Brian McGurk says it was time to stop plastic from our region from being shipped overseas and reflect on how we can reduce our reliance on plastic that can’t be recycled domestically.

“We’ve written to supermarkets and retailers asking them to phase out plastic types 3, 4, 6 and 7, but we all have a part to play. We’re asking everyone to take a moment when they are out shopping, to think about how they can eliminate hard-to-recycle plastics from their trolley,” he says.

“We have had lots of positive feedback about this change, and lots of questions too. The key thing to remember is to look for the number. If you can’t find one, it’s almost certainly not recyclable, and you might consider buying an alternative product in future. Wherever possible, reducing the amount of plastic you need to buy is always the best option.”

Yellow bins that are found to contain plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7 past 1 July 1 will not be collected.

For more information about what you can and can’t recycle, recycling tips and an updated recycling calendar go to: