Wellington’s recycling conspiracy?

After being irritated for the millionth time that Wellington doesn’t recycle plastic bags, and how much stuff goes into the yellow council rubbish bags, rather than the recycling bin, I decided to do some investigating.

I discovered that the contractor with whom the city contracts all of its recycling does have the capability of recycling grades 1 -7 plastics (excluding 6… which as we know from Food Inc, is nearly impossible to recycle.  Don’t buy anything that comes in or is made of grade 6 plastic!).  Despite the fact that these materials can be recycled, in Wellington, we just send them all to the landfill.


The city doesn’t think it’s an economically worthwhile investment.

Please see below:

From:     Info.atWCC@wcc.govt.nz
Subject:     Recycling
Date:     21 June, 2010 4:37:15 PM GMT+12:00
To:     nicole marie gaston

Dear Nicole,

Thank you for your email received today, Monday 21 June, regarding plastic recycling in Wellington.

We do hope to be able to offer a similar service to our residents, but for the mean time please bear in mind recycling is a commodity, and is thus driven by the economics of the resources. There are increased separating, process and storage costs associated with increasing the number of plastic grades collected.

Having said that, Porirua is currently doing a trial on grades 1-7 with the local processor, AllBrite. Hopefully as a result, the way will be paved and all Wellington residents region-wide can contribute to the increase in landfill diversion.

You may also be interested in our website links to information about recycling, including tips on composting, energy efficiency and water conservation:


For more information on Wellington City Council and our services, please click on the following link to our website:


Your input is valued by us and we thank you for helping to make this city a better place. If we can be of further assistance, Nicole, or you have any questions about the Wellington City Council and our services please call our 24 hour Customer Contact Centre on (04) 499 4444 or email: info@wcc.govt.nz.

Kind regards,

Adrian Rogers
Online Information Co-ordinator
Customer Contact Centre
Citizen Engagement Directorate
Wellington City Council
101 Wakefield St
New Zealand

I think that Sarah Jane Barnett has some really great tips on regarding what we can do to reduce the amount of shit that goes into landfills.  Her ideas of creating a “Packaging Diary” is brilliant.  We all need to be aware of our consumption.  What else can we do?

  1. E-mail the Wellington city council and demand that they divert more plastics from the landfill to the recycling centre!
  2. STOP buying stuff that comes in non-recyclable containers
  3. Bring a re-usable shopping bag with you everywhere you go!

Of course, there is so much more we can call do, but these are just some ways of getting started.

Here is a pattern for making your own fold-up-shopping-bag that fits neatly into your handbag or backpack.  The fancy trimmings and bias tape are totally optional.

I never leave home without the bag I picked up for free from the ALA conference last year.  It’s made of grey nylon and says “University of Chicago Press”, and folds up to be smaller than my wallet!


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