Not all plastic belongs in the yellow bin.
That is the message the Central Otago District Council is sending out to the community as it works to educate people on how to use the kerbside bin system.
In December last year, the council ‘‘reset’’ its bin system due to the types of plastics that are able to be recycled within New Zealand.
Waste minimisation officer Abi Hawkins recently attended the Central Otago and Mt Benger A&P shows to help educate the community about what can and cannot go in the coloured bins, particularly the yellow bin.
‘‘We really have to think about what we are putting in,’’ she said.
‘‘Soft plastic is the real killer.’’
Ms Hawkins said the scheme that collected soft plastic in bins throughout stores such as supermarkets has recently restarted in the North Island, but had no collection points in the South Island.
‘‘This material cannot be recycled through kerbside bins and needs to be kept out.’’
Soft plastic was anything that could be screwed into a ball.
Anything that met that description was to go in the red bin.
Only plastic 2 and 5 and clear plastic 1 bottles are accepted for recycling.
Plastic packaging numbered 3, 4, 6 and 7 are no longer accepted for recycling in the yellow kerbside bins.
No items made of number 1 plastic, other than clear bottles, will be acceptable for recycling, including bottles made of coloured plastic, meat trays, punnets and biscuit trays.
Cardboard pizza boxes are also no longer accepted for recycling in the yellow bin.
However, the yellow bin is still the right place for clean aluminium and steel cans and clean cardboard and paper.
People often get caught out when packaging is promoted as ‘‘100% recyclable’’, such as fruit punnets, Ms Hawkins said.
‘‘For us it’s not always recyclable,’’ she said.
‘‘We have to be careful about what manufacturers are telling us.
‘‘A manufacturer’s promise of a recyclable product may not be available in practice.’’
Her advice was to avoid buying items covered in plastic and ‘‘if in doubt leave it out’’.
A council-led waste audit found almost half of what was going into the red bin was organic waste — items from food scraps to garden waste.
Ms Hawkins said the best option for food scraps was for people to shop smart, store their food well and try to use up leftovers.
Garden waste could be taken to one of the council’s transfer stations, where a small carload was free, she said.