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WEIRD REYCLING: Where to recycle bras, coffee pods, soft plastics, bread tags and SO much more...

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

There's are SO MANY things that CAN be recycled, but many of them can not go in your recycling bin.

I thought it would be handy to compile a list of how and where to recycle these things, so that all the info is together in one spot... SO here goes!

All are free unless otherwise stated.

Soft Plastics - soft plastic (what is soft plastic? See bottom of article) recycling is currently available to 60% of NZers (it's not in the South Island yet, but they say it's coming to Christchurch soon). Find your closest drop-off point here:

Disposable Face Masks - As of mid-2022, there is a brand new recycling scheme offered by MEO. You can find out everything you need to know here. The first stage requires you to send the masks in to them in prepaid courier bags, but the second stage (October 2022) will involve drop off points. Disposable masks of any brand can be recycled. Like the NZ soft plastic recycling, the ground up masks are recycled into fence posts.

Only Organic Babyfood pouches - These pouches are now recyclable through soft plastic recycling (see directly above for where to recycle your soft plastics). To find out how to prepare your pouches for soft plastic recycling see the Only Organic info page.

Cellphones - Upgraded? You can recycle your old phone with Re:mobile. It's free. It's easy. They have more than 400 drop-off locations (including all Vodafone, Spark and 2 degrees stores), or you can post it to them for free. They recycle around 95% of the materials (including silver and gold!) so that they can be used again. They also donate money to Sustainable Coastlines, which plant trees alongside our waterways to restore habitats for native animals, reduce sediment and improve water quality. Check out the Re:mobile website for all the details.

Makeup - Check out the new (June 2022) Terracycle Maybelline Recycling Scheme! You can take any makeup empties and packaging, from any brands, into your local Chemist Warehouse, and drop them in to be recycled. More info here.

Polystyrene - EXPOL have a polystyrene recycling scheme. You can find collection points here:

Paint and paint pots - you can recycle old paint and paint containers at Resene and Dulux shops.

Batteries - Most batteries are actually around 98% recyclable! You can now recycle batteries for free at all Bunnings Stores around NZ! Otherwise, there are plenty of places to recycle batteries, but most of them charge (check out EcoMatters, E-Cycle, Computer Recycling, Upcycle or your local council.) If you know of any others, please let me know. Approximate cost for those that do charge: Alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, 9V) $3/kg. Non-alkaline batteries (button, rechargeable, Lithium, Ni - Mh, phone) $5.50/kg

Coffee pods - L'affare, L'ore, Maccona, illy, Jed's and Nescafe coffee pods can all be recycled through Terracycle. Find your closest drop off point for these here.

Nespressso have their own recycling scheme for their pods with over 950 drop off points in NZ, you can find drop off points here.


E-waste - For everything you need to know about e-waste recycling, and to find your closest e-waste recyclers, check out the article I wrote here.

Oral care (Toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, floss containers and plastic outer packaging materials) - Colgate and TerraCycle have a scheme where these can be recycled, with lots of collection points across the country. Find collection points here NOTE: AS OF 20th JULY 2022 ONLY COLGATE BRAND will be accepted in this recycling scheme.

Ecostore has a free-post recycling scheme for their toothbrushes and tubes. You can find the relevant information here.

And finally, Grin also has a recycling program (non-Grin toothpaste tubes are also accepted). Each time you send back 10 tubes, brushes, floss dispensers, flosser packs (with all the empty handles), they send you a $5.00 voucher to go towards your next order from their website. More info here.

Curtains - (Auckland)Habitat Curtain Bank upcycles good quality curtains and fabric material donated by the public and businesses to suit the specific needs of each home. They accept good quality, mould-free curtains, fabric rolls or large offcuts of fabric and clean netting curtains. Please no dirty or mouldy curtains, blinds, curtain tracks, curtain rods of brackets. More information here.

Shaving - TerraCycle and Gillette have partnered to create a recycling programme for any brand of used razors, their blades and their packaging! Find collection points here

EcoStore Bottles - EcoStore are now taking back their bottles to recycle and reuse. Find your closest collection point here.

Lightbulbs - You can recycle lightbulbs for a charge (approx $1 per lightbulb or $3 per tube) at EcoMatters, In Hamilton you can recycle energy saving lighting/compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes for free for householders at the Refuse Transfer Station on Lincoln Street. These bulbs can also be dropped off to the Waikato Environment Centre at 242 Peachgrove Rd (please note a donation is requested to cover costs).

Inflatable Pool Toys - I used to be is a brand that turn old inflatable pool toys into one-of-a-kind bags. Drop off points are in Auckland, Cambridge and Whangaparoa - find the list here.

Bras - If you have bras you no longer use (and they're in reasonable condition), take them to one of the Uplift NZ's drop off points so they can live a second life in Fiji, Tonga, the Soloman Islands, or Bali rather than lanquish in a landfill. NZ wide drop off points here.

Plant Pots and Labels - can be recycled at Kings Plant Barn

Wine bottle caps and can tabs - Lions Club collect these for the charity Kidney Kids. Details here.

Hearing Aids - old / used hearing aids can be donated at Bay Audiology. For more info see here.

Non-donatable textiles -

Image: Little Yellow Bird Apparel

Little Yellow Bird Apparel: The best option is the amazing Circular Cotton return scheme through Little Yellow Bird. They accept 100% cotton jeans, sheets, and clothing from any brand in any condition. They also accept any and all socks (regardless of composition). (For non-cotton items there is another option below). Products need to be clean. At this stage, no undergarments are accepted. This is an amazing initiative, which I could write an entire blog on! But you can find out all you need to know on the Little Yellow Bird Apparel website.

H&M: Drop your unwanted clothing in the recycling box at your local H&M. All textiles are welcome – any brand, any condition – even odd socks, worn-out T-shirts and old sheets. I'm not gonna lie - I'm not an H&M fan, and am completely using them for this recycling scheme. You get a 15% discount card when you donate textiles - which I'll never use. So what happens to it? H&M works with a global recycling company called I:CO, which picks up donated clothes from H&M stores and takes them to sorting plants around the world. Around 60 percent goes to re-wear, so secondhand and vintage,” said Catarina Midby, sustainability manager at H&M UK and Ireland. “What cannot be re-worn will be reused and repurposed for things like cleaning cloths, insulation for houses and cars and other products.” 5 to 10 percent of collected clothing is recycled into fibers that ultimately make new clothes. The rest is “downcycled” into lower-value products like insulation.

Across H&M’s brands, .7 percent of the materials used in new clothing has been recycled, according to the company’s 2016 sustainability report.

Prescription Glasses - In partnerships with Lions Recycle for Sight, Specsavers have launched a nationwide glasses recycling program. Every Specsavers store provides a glasses recycling service where old glasses can be donated, quality-checked, and sent to people in need overseas.

To make a difference, simply bring your pre-loved glasses into your local Specsavers store and place them in the glasses recycling box or hand them to a team member.

Do you have any more to add? Let's make this list a one-stop-recycling-shop! Comment below, or on facebook / instagram!

Soft Plastics: scrunchie plastics that you can ball up in your hand, like plastic bags, bread bags, pasta/rice/cereal packaging, frozen food bags, dairy wrappers, bubble wrap, courier bags, chocolate/muesli bar wrappers, toilet paper/paper towel/ nappy/sanitary product wrapping, newspaper wrap, confectionery wrap; chip packets with light foil, large sheets of plastic that furniture comes wrapped in (cut into pieces the size of an A3 sheet of paper first), cling film which is clean - and please make sure it is LDPE (resin 4), ice pack bags – (empty and dry), coffee & tea bags (light foil lining), dry dog food bags, garden potting mix bags

This article is included in Twinkl's Eco-Friendly and Sustainability campaign, and is part of their article "Some great ideas to be more sustainable in 2021”.

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