When you love something, you take care of it, right? Us Kiwis love our little patch of the world but when it comes to our waste we've still got a way to go to really take care of it. New Zealanders dump 2.5 million tonnes of waste in landfills every year and our waste emissions per capita are the second highest in the world.
One way other countries, particularly those in Europe, have reduced their waste and emissions is to practise more efficient recycling. This takes a bit of forethought, effort and preparation to ensure recycling won't end up in landfill after all. Recycling efficiently is one area we can step it up a notch.
Here’s 5 hot tips to turn you into a pro recycler!
1. Rinse, clean, squash.
In NZ, most recycling is sorted by hand. If you clean your plastics, cans and tins – it has a much greater chance of being recycled, and it’s a big help for the waste workers! Give items a quick wash and then squash them so they fit easily inside your recycle bin. Flatten any cardboard too – this creates more space in your bin, allowing you to recycle more.
2. Remove lids from glass and plastic.
Lids can often be made of a different recyclable material, like tin lids on glass jars, or screw caps on wine bottles. Remove them, give them a quick clean and sort them into their correct bin.
3. Get to know your rubbish better.
Many household items can’t be recycled, such as:
• Aerosol cans, like fly spray or shaving cream
• Tin foil
• Styrofoam and polystyrene, such as some supermarket meat trays
• Paint tins – many paint stores will take these off your hands
• Takeaway coffee cups – although some of these are compostable
• Any boxes that are wax coated, such as beer boxes or freezer food boxes
• Plastic bags – often these can’t be recycled, but you can return them to some supermarkets in New Zealand
• Food scraps and garden waste – consider composting these instead.
The things you can recycle are different depending on where you live, so check what items you can recycle with your local council.
4. If it’s broken or dirty – don’t recycle.
Broken glass, sharp jagged plastic, or dirty items should be wrapped in newspaper and chucked in the rubbish.
5. Think about what you buy.
Try to buy unpackaged items like fruit and vegetables or items that are only packaged in recyclable material. Read the label and look for the recycle symbol. When buying takeaways, try to frequent places that package their food in compostable or recyclable containers.
Z have been fighting this good fight since 2012. By implementing numerous recycling initiatives, they’ve managed to reduce their waste by 60%, emissions from waste by 57% and are on track to reach their target of 70% waste reduction.