2. What to do with Household Metal

Metal going into the Red Bin or landfill should be a last resort. Metal is easily reused for fixing or making other products. It is also easily melted and remade into new products, saving huge costs of extracting it. We have no excuses not to reuse and recycle metal as there are many places for your waste metal to go.

I (Michelle), had an old but beautiful family piano that could no longer be tuned. With the help of whanau we took it apart (yes they thought I was odd at the beginning and grumbled). All the lovely wood, candelabra and wheels went to a local Men’s Shed, the heavy frame and all the bits of metal (wire, screws etc) were sold at a scrap metal place. Only a few bits of wood mixed with nails/screws went to landfill, about 10%. My Great Aunt’s piano still lives on - now made into many other useful things.

I have too many utensils what do I do with them?

If they’re in good condition please take them to Op shops, refugee resettlement, School Fairs, community social media pages or sell on TradeMe or Marketplace, Garage Sale, Carboot Sales etc so they can continue to be used and live a good life.
If they are not usable but still intact and safe, pre-schools often like them for sand play etc. But if rusty or broken then drop off to the Transfer Stations. If you can remove/separate the metal parts and take to metal recyclers the Handles etc. can then go to landfill.
Generally, for broken Homeware and Gardenware, if there are usable components, they may be accepted by the EcoDrop recycling centres for resale at the Ecoshop, subject to inspection.

I've got a toaster that no longer works, what is best for this? What do I do with bigger items like a microwave, fridge or oven?
The three EcoShop Transfer Stations take these for free, regardless of condition and Fridges are safely de-gassed.
If the item still works then donate to a charity, someone in need on Facebook or Eco Drop will probably take them.
If none of the above, you could try a metal/e-waste recycler. This is the place one of our waste expert uses and they accept electronic waste for free 
https://www.nationalsteel.co.nz/contact. If there are enough items they may even collect.
What if I don't know if they go or not? Some op shops and resale shops will take the item if they do electrical testing. Please ask.

What do I do with little metal household items like screws, nails, washers?
Try community social media pages as there are often DIYers who will happily take them. Try Men’s Sheds and other charities that do stuff up.
If you can’t find a taker, then metal recyclers might take them if there is enough.
Bagged up, they may be accepted at the EcoDrop for resale, at Creative Junk – check their wishlist, Repair Café’s or again try Freecycle, Trademe, Facebook Marketplace and so on.

​If you life in the Southbrook area then you definitely don't have to put metal bits in your Red Bin. If it is metal that you drank or ate from, rinse and recycle. But for all the other bits pop into something like an old plant pot for good drainage, place beside your recycle bin on the kerb and it will be taken to Southbrook transfer station to add to the scrap metal pile. This includes all metal lids, munted nails, screws, rusty bolts, egg beater etc. Isn't that fantastic! 

I have a random metal stake, metal window frame (glass is broken), old broken heavy table with metal legs... 
Ask the friendly staff at the transfer stations also as above see if it can be someone else’s treasure.
Warratahs might be useful for community gardens and food forests.

Also if you have loads of scrap metal take it to a metal dealer. Like my story above I didn’t realise how much metal was in a piano. They can pick up or you drop off and you might be surprised how much its worth. Google ‘Scrap Metal’, there are at least five places in Christchurch, one in Leeston and three in Waimakariri.

See list of Transfer Stations for the Region, in the Information below.

5. What do we do with lids?

Why can't they go in the Yellow Bin as they're plastic or metal?
Lids, regardless of the recyclability of the material, are so small or flat, that they aren’t suitable products to go through MRF (materials recovery facility) machinery so they have to go in the RED bin.

 Another reason recyclers don’t want plastic lids is because they are made of a different type of plastic than the bottles so they can’t go together to be recycled. Even if there was a market for the lids to be collected separately, they can only be exported in large quantities (i.e. shipping containers) so collection and storage of them until there was enough makes it completely non-profitable to get them recycled, given that any price offered will be negligible.  

Ice cream container lids are big what about those?
While these are recyclable, they go in the RED bin because of how flat and light they are. Any flat lid – margarine, ice cream, yogurt are all very hard to successfully separate from the paper and cardboard. Sorting materials from each other happens at high speed to get through all the product being received. In Christchurch the machine sorts about 25 tonnes an hour.
More information on flat lids: 

I can't get the lid off (my glass soy bottle)?
If you cannot remove the lid and therefore it is not washable, it is better to place it in the RED bin, than to risk contaminating eg paper and cardboard at the plant, by remnants coming out when it is being thrown around, going in the truck and at the plant. The best thing to do is not buy that brand again and look for one that can be removed and the bottle washed and recycled.

What about spray bottle 'lids'?

If they can be removed, remove them and put the ‘lid’ in the RED bin and if the main bottle part is recyclable (1, 2 or 5) pop that in the YELLOW bin. If they are attached, better to put in RED bin if it means you cannot wash the bottle out properly.

#Reuse #Refill! If the bottle is washable and hasn’t had toxic chemicals in it, refill at places like bulk stores, means avoiding having to throw out the lids each time the product runs out.

What about those rings on milk bottles - do I have to remove them too?
The plant does not require that these are removed. A perfect product wouldn’t have any sleeves or rings – if you do remove them make sure they are cut, so they don’t get stuck around birds or any other wildlife.

So generally, Lids go in the RED bin, or even better reused:

Use reusable or refillable containers to reduce lids in the first place:

  • Have a metals collection box at home, then take to scrap metal when there is a significant amount
  • Collect coloured plastic lids to give to craft, education groups. Eg. many kindergartens accept bags of clean coloured milk bottle sized lids. Craft groups or schools take all sorts. Check out https://creativejunk.org.nz/ too.
  • Kidney kids have collection points for metal can tabs and wine caps – some Lions Clubs, work places and community hubs have these https://kidneykids.org.nz/about-us/kantabs/
  • There are quite a few local community recycling hubs too. We’re currently growing a comprehensive list here.
  • Put the lids back on the container and reuse! Glass jars and ice cream containers are perfect for reusing, drop off to food banks or post on Community social media pages. Especially useful around harvest time when people have stuff to preserve and freeze. Community pantries or hubs like The shop at Little River leaves theirs outside to take and they are even used to store pumpkin soup for the annual Pumpkin festival out there.
  • Some plastic lids are reused by recycling initiatives like https://remixplastic.com/ and https://www.polylab.nz/ who remake them into fabulous jewellery and art.
Rubbish Talk
Rubbish Talk

Rubbish Talk Videos

- Intro

Eco Educate's great idea for all little scraps of metal to be collected with your Kerbside Bins in Southbrook Transfer station Area. 

We'll be asking if anywhere else does this too!

Rubbish Talk
Waste Experts - Our Daily Waste
Rubbish Talk

1. Pizza Boxes go in the Green Bin

They're a cardboard box so why not the Yellow Bin if they aren't that greasy? 
You can rip the top off if it isn’t greasy, and recycle it.  We do have a guide for our auditors as to what constitutes too greasy for recycling versus acceptable. As we have green bins, we do ask residents to put them straight in the green bin.…the vast majority of pizza boxes seen are fairly greasy.

If ripped pizza cardboard can go in green bin why not other ripped up cardboard?
Other ripped up cardboard can go in the green bin, as long as it doesn’t have plastic on it. Rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t want to grow veges in it, don’t put it in the green bin.

Why do you prefer pizza boxes to go in the green bin, how does it help the compost?
Clean cardboard in the yellow recycling bins is sent to paper mills overseas for processing. However, dirty cardboard isn’t accepted in the recycling. This is due to oil having soaked into the fibres. Oils in water, hinder the re-pulping process, where cardboard is being reconstituted into new items.

However, we also ideally don’t want this cardboard in the red bin, i.e. landfill, as organic material in landfills both release methane, and it is expensive and a waste of this potential resource to dump it.

Therefore, the best solution is to put it in the green bin (or home compost). It adds carbon to the compost, as it is originally a wood product. An additional win is that the compost is processed just down the road in Bromley, then sold within NZ, largely locally which means less carbon miles too. Added to home compost, ripped up cardboard introduces air and carbon and soaks up moisture, so can be a valuable addition to create healthy compost at home.

6. What do I do with hazardous items like batteries?

What do I do with my little AA batteries?
Do not dispose of these and cell batteries in any kerbside bins. Take non damaged batteries to your nearest EcoDrop, any Bunnings, Ferrymead Countdown, Mitre 10, Canterbury Uni and other businesses and community recycling hubs. Drop off is free. If you don’t have transport, we advise keeping these in a container out of sun and heat out of the way of children, until someone is able to take these to one of the drop off spots for you.

If the batteries are damaged, rusted or leaking, take these to an Ecodrop only.

Best thing to do is to go Rechargable. It is a cost to get started but in the long run it saves money and the environment!

What do I do with a car battery?
Take to your nearest Ecodrop or Supercheap Auto, for free. Many mechanics will also take them for free.

What happens if I put batteries in the curbside bins?
Batteries can cause fires in the bins, trucks and at the sorting depo.

RED BIN - Rubbish trucks compact rubbish, to make more space in the truck.  This squashing action can causes parts of a lithium battery to mix with parts that aren’t designed to be in contact with each other. This can lead to a chemical reaction occurring. The battery starts increasingly overheating, until eventually it catches fire. If this doesn’t happen in the truck, it can also happen in the disposal pit. Fires in trucks and pits are very dangerous.

They also leak acid and on the off chance that someone ever has to handle that waste (due to future erosion, or even mining etc.) you’re potentially going to cause harm, and it will also be leaked into the landfill.

YELLOW BIN - If damaged lithium batteries go into in a recycling truck, they could start a fire in the paper and cardboard, or in the recycling machinery.  

GREEN BIN - Residents know not to put batteries in green bins – the toxic component of batteries need to be kept well away from soil.

The fire risk would be even greater in a food truck as the organics is naturally combusting as it’s transported/stored. As such, food waste trucks have to be emptied quickly and cannot be stored overnight etc. so batteries in there is a huge risk.
Would you want to eat food grown from compost that batteries have been processed in?

Other issues with disposing of batteries:

  • It is a waste of precious metals to place resources into landfill, when we have the ability to recycle them.
  • Batteries can leach toxic chemicals. 
  • Given how extremely hazardous button cell batteries are to children and wildlife, these tiny but hazardous items need to be carefully disposed of to ensure they don’t escape large receptacles like wheelie bins or trucks and into the environment.
  • When my property was flooded last year, I laughed at the irony that I was picking up the contents of my bins once the water had resided. Bins get blown over, tipped over, and that waste is then litter and has to be picked up by someone (hopefully).
  • Children and animals can die from ingesting those tiny silver batteries that look like treats to them.
  • They should only be stored safely and up high until they can be disposed of as well.

What are other hazardous substances that shouldn't go in the bins and what do I do with them instead?
All the following are FREE drop off options. None of the below can go in any of the kerbside bins, apart from the cooled and bagged ash or soaked fireworks (red bin only). 

Chemicals –  EcoDrop Recycling Centre  accept household  and garden chemicals (liquid and dry) EcoCentral - What we accept

Gas bottles, including camping canisters – Eco Drop Recycling Centre (everything from LPG cylinders, Butane canisters etc)

Fire extinguishers - Ecodrop Recycling Centre  Also,  “Wormald”  in Christchurch, take back their own fire extinguishers. If in good quality, they may be able to do a swap and go.

Paints, oils, solvents - Ecodrop Recycling Centres for paints, solvents and oil (both cooking oil, used oil and automotive liquids). Some paint shops also take back paint and/or used paint pails, for recycling like Dulux
https://www.dulux.co.nz/applicator/services/dulux-paint-take-back-service and Resene https://www.resene.co.nz/paintwise.php

For Cooking oil there are some alternatives; North canterbury chicken rescue take used cooking oil for treating scale on chicken’s legs, also some pig farmers add to pig food.

Soak - Completely submerge fireworks in a bucket of water. Allow to soak overnight.
Wrap – Double-wrap soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or plastic bags so they do not dry out.
Dispose - Place wrapped bags in the red bin.
Alternatively, you can drop these off at an EcoDrop recycling centre.

Ash from the fire only goes in the red bin, after it has been cooled for 5 days, and double bagged. Ash can contain heavy metals (particularly if treated wood has been burnt), which contaminates compost.

Cleaning products – Clean empty containers, that are a 1, 2 or 5 plastic, with lids removed, and between the size of a yogurt pottle and 3L container, can go into the recycling YELLOW bin. Chemicals need to be taken to the ECO Drop be neutralised. Best is to purchase eco-friendly products with no harmful chemicals.

Medicines – Don’t put in bin and don’t flush down the toilet.
Medications are too small and too hazardous to go into red wheelie bin (even if bagged), where the risk is they could get out into the environment eg a bin got tipped over. We also don’t want any of these kinds of concentrated chemicals going into a landfill without treatment as a hazardous waste first.

Full strength medications also cannot always be filtered out of waste water (ie from the toilet) properly and therefore, even once waste water is treated, and discharged into the sea, it could still contain things like hormone disruptors, which can harm aquatic wildlife.

Take these back to a pharmacy listed on the following link, they will dispose of them for free:

Other medical waste like RAT tests, dressings etc. should be bagged or disposed of inside its packaging into the RED bin.

Some Pharmacies are trialling take back of empty plastic pill packaging for recycling, ask your pharmacy what they can take. ​


Rubbish Talk


Kia Ora to our Waste Experts -

Eco Educate and Our Daily Waste

Further Information

More Rubbish Talk join in on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodHomeWaitaha

More information about waste go to

More information about the Council Bins go to:

Christchurch - https://www.ccc.govt.nz/services/rubbish-and-recycling/​

Selwyn - https://www.selwyn.govt.nz/services/rubbish,-recycling-And-organics/kerbside-collections/recycle-collection/how-to-recycle-correctly 

Waimakariri - https://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/services/recycling-rubbish-and-organics

Transfer Stations:


EcoDrop Metro Place  - 40 Metro Place (off Dyers Road), Bromley
EcoDrop Parkhouse Road  - 25 Parkhouse Road, Wigram
EcoDrop Styx Mill Road  - 76 Styx Mill Road (off Main North Road), Redwood

Banks Peninsula
Barrys Bay Transfer Station - 102 Onawe Flat Road, Duvauchelle
Birdlings Flat Transfer Station - 3382 Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River
Collection Points and more information see Council’s Website:  https://ccc.govt.nz/services/rubbish-and-recycling/ecodrops 

Pines Resource Recovery Park - Burnham School Road Rolleston
More informationhttps://www.selwyn.govt.nz/services/rubbish,-recycling-And-organics/recovery-park

Southbrook Resource Recovery Park - 284 Flaxton Road, Rangiora
Oxford Transfer Station - 46 High Street, Oxford
More informationhttps://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/services/recycling-rubbish-and-organics/transfer-stations

Talking About

  1. Pizza Boxes
  2. Household Metal
  3. Plastic/Paper Combos
  4. Tissue Paper
  5. Lids
  6. Hazardous Items
  7. Coming soon...






Waste Experts - Eco Educate
Rubbish Talk
Rubbish Talk

4. What to do with Tissues, Paper Towels & Wet Wipes?

Paper towels, serviettes, tissues - Do they all go in the Green Bin? 
Yes, all paper towels, paper serviettes and paper tissues are a good source of carbon in the GREEN bins.
If paper towels have been used with cleaning chemicals they should be put in the RED bin. A good rule of thumb; If you wouldn’t want to grow your veges in the resulting compost, put it in the red bin.

Can we flush them?
No, only toilet paper. Anything else, including paper towels, can fairly easily cause blockages. Even if it says ‘flushable’ on the packaging, don’t flush! Our system isn’t made for anything but our excrements and toilet paper. Cotton buds seem to be the latest flushing trend , NO just NO

Wet wipes!
Any baby, makeup or wet wipes, regardless of their labelling around being biodegradable or compostable, go into the RED bin. The composters don’t want these, as they are a mix of paper and PLASTIC. The wastewater plant also cannot process these – they frequently cause blockages known as fatburgs!

We of course, encourage reusable. Just wash and reuse! 

Anything else?
These can go in the GREEN bin too, to be turned into compost.

  • Shredded paper or cardboard
  • Fish and chip paper,
  • Plain cardboard pizza boxes,
  • Toilet roll cardboard inners

This is much more preferable to these carbon items going to landfill, where they barely break down at all – instead they “mummify” in the airless environment, giving off methane (a greenhouse gas).

What we don’t want to put in the green bin but goes in the RED bin:

  • ‘Compostable’ label
  • Bioware
  • Potato Plates
  • Cornstarch
  • Bioplastics/PLA (bags, coffee cups) 
  • Bamboo

Our green bins go to Living Earth to be turned into compost. Some of the reasons that Living Earth doesn’t want the above is because:

  • The products are made from GE materials, and Living Earth has a certified organic status that does not allow for these products
  • They do not break down quickly in their system and can leave chunks in the compost that when put on paddocks can potentially choke lifestock.
  • There is currently no standards in place in NZ to ensure that this stream can be composted.
  • The items are difficult to differentiate and often contaminate recycling
  • Unless you are prepared to compost yourself, or can return to the originator (some cafés offer this service) then these items MUST go to LANDFILL
  • If you do wish to compost them, then soaking them first can help, along with shredding.
  • Do not be fooled by ‘compostable’ products. Whatever it is made of, if it is single use, it is NOT sustainable. The only sustainable product is reusable.

3. What to do with Mixed Materials; Plastic/Paper

 What do I do with takeaway coffee cups that are paper outside?
This is a tricky one but the general rule for all takeaway items is the RED Bin due to the waterproof inner coating. The best answer is not to use them at all and have a reusable cup.

They used to be recyclable, but it was a costly process to boil them up to separate the plastic lining and then the cardboard pulp was of a quality no one wanted to buy. Also, people treat them as mini-bins so they attract all sorts of contamination, including sticky marshmallows.

Coffee Cup Lids, like all lids, go in the RED Bin even if they have a recycling icon on them. They are too small for the recycling machine to sort.

Many takeaway cups are now labelled biodegradable or compostable but this is more well-meaning than a solution. They need to go to a commercial composter or a very good home compost, NOT the green Council Bin.

We don’t have any national standards in NZ around the labelling of an items as biodegradable or compostable, and there are many different brands, so we cannot be sure what those that may contain, and therefore break down into micro plastics in the compost (green bin).

If they’re PLA (Plant Lactic Acid) they can technically be composted BUT only if they’re in a home compost or taken back to a café etc. that can compost them. The University of Canterbury has special bins on site for them, and they are taken to a commercial composter to be composted. 

If none of these options are available for the ‘compostable’ coffee cup then they also go to Landfill. Living Earth will not accept them outside of an event doing the CFPE programme, so they NEVER go to home or business green bins. Here is Wasteminz’s map of where they can go. 

Do I take the plastic off the tissue boxes/tape off the cardboard boxes/plastic windows from the envelopes/sticky tape off gift wrap before it goes into the recycling bin?
Yes please separate and put the paper/cardboard in the YELLOW Bin, then ideally these are free of plastic. The paper is re-pulped to be used again, and the less plastic among it the better.

Usually some does get through, but I can guarantee that everyone on the recycling chain, prefers them off. Mixed materials cost so much more to separate before the recycling processes too (assuming they get that far.)

Can glossy magazines and old books go in the yellow bin?
YES, thin glossy magazines and brochures can go into the YELLOW bin. Books need to have any hard cover removed. Just ensure books are not covered in plastic etc. Removing staples is ideal too.

Thick books and magazines, need to be broken up, so they don’t cause jams in the machinery. Also don’t overload your bins as they can become too heavy for the truck to pick up. Spread them over a few weeks or your bin may not get taken.

Other confusing items with mixed plastic/paper?
Till receipts go in the RED bin and not the recycling or green bin. The standard receipts that have the “slippery” texture, are lined with BPA, for thermal properties. Recyclers don’t want this.

Many stores are now offering emailed receipts. This can be in response to customer demand, so inquiries about this from consumers can lead to this option being provided.

All the other ‘compostable’ products go in the RED bin, they can’t go to the green bins or Living Earth. The simple answer to all these problems is #reusable, or take time to sit down and enjoy your coffee. Many of us grew up in a world where the only takeaway packaging was paper bags or newspapers, unless we went to KFC for a special occasion. Says it all really.

You’d think that we would be getting better at recycling and using our Yellow, Red and Green Bins by now. Unfortunately, we aren’t and according to Christchurch City Council waste data, the last two years we’ve got worse. Over 45% of rubbish getting buried in our landfill could have gone elsewhere to be reused, recycled or composted. 

We need to not only reduce making the waste in the first place but also deal better with the waste we have.

Top 20 Wrongs to get it Right

With Flourish’s new Rubbish Talk project we’ve been chatting to the waste people who deal with the kerbside collection bins and community-based
experts from Selwyn, Waimakariri and Christchurch to find out what we are doing wrong and easy ways to make it right. We’re asking questions about what seems simple but is confusing. Check out the answers below.

Remix Plastics
Rubbish Talk