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.


We’re very keen to hear from you what confuses you too.

Message us and we’ll work on answering your questions together with waste experts.

Don’t feel shy it can be as simple as ‘Can I put pet/human hair in the green bin?’, we are sure that plenty of other people want to know too (as pet owners we do!).


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.

Rubbish Talk

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.

Rubbish Talk

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!

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.


Rubbish Talk


Kia Ora to our Waste Experts -

Eco Educate and Our Daily Waste

Further Information

Research is currently being carried out by SCION, which includes studies into the breakdown of various paper and cardboard products. Eg if the paper market crashed overseas, could/or how could we safely compost all/the majority of the paper and cardboard we are receiving in the kerbside collection, here in NZ? Studies look at the chemical makeup of the resulting soil, and any potential effects from pigments and resins from these products.

More Rubbish Talk join in on Facebook

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






Waste Experts - Eco Educate
Rubbish Talk