Sustainability and recycling made easy

How Mitre 10 can help you do your part for the planet and recycle more efficiently in 2023.

We’re all trying to be good humans and do the right thing when it comes to recycling. But things often get in the way – time pressures, confusion over what can be recycled, family or housemates refusing to get on board and wash their milk bottles and takeaway containers.

The reality is that for recycling to work well, it will take some effort from everyone.

Mitre 10 is working to help Kiwis live more sustainably and has introduced recycling programmes for plastic garden pots, light bulbs and polystyrene, which you can’t put out for kerbside recycling in most regions.

It’s also reducing waste everywhere possible from its own operations and requiring suppliers to move to recyclable, refillable or home compostable packaging by 2025.

If your house needs a reset, here are some ways to join Mitre 10 in building a better future by making sure your recycling efforts don’t get side-tracked.

Know what can go in kerbside recycling

Unfortunately, it’s not one-size-fits-all, and different councils around the country have varying requirements for the material types that can go into kerbside recycling.

To make things simple, the general rule is ‘empty and clean’. This means anything you put in your recycling bin should have no food waste or other residues that could contaminate the recycling processes.

Putting one item in your bin that is non-recyclable can mean that the whole load goes into landfill… The opposite of what we want, even if our intentions were good.

With different areas sometimes accepting different items for recycling, it can be hard to know what to put in.


Here’s a general guide to what you can and can’t recycle, but do check with your local council.


  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Tin, steel and aluminium cans, including empty aerosols
  • Plastic bottles from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry
  • Clear plastic food containers
  • Pizza boxes (remove any food!)
  • Newspapers, magazines, advertising mail and envelopes
  • Paper and cardboard packaging 
  • Egg cartons 
  • Milk and juice cartons, including Tetra Pak® cartons

Not acceptable

  • Plastic bags – they get caught in the sorting machines
  • Food waste
  • Garden waste
  • Medical waste
  • Building waste
  • Chemicals and hazardous waste
  • Nappies and sanitary products
  • Polystyrene takeaway containers and polystyrene meat trays
  • Clothing, shoes and textiles
  • Cookware, Pyrex ®, drinking glasses, window glass and mirror glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Fluorescent tubes and lamps, including Compact Fluorescent Lamps – they contain toxic mercury
  • Electronic and electrical items
  • Batteries – lithium batteries can explode and have been known to cause fires in recycling trucks

Beyond the kerb

It’s not as hard as you think to recycle household waste that can’t go in kerbside recycling – from taking soft plastics back to supermarkets, or utilising Mitre 10’s recycling services for expanded polystyrene packaging, light bulbs and plastic ID5 plant pots and labels.

Feeling overwhelmed or cluttered? Ask the council about a community recycling centre near you, instead of chucking everything you don’t need in landfill. These facilities allow you to drop off unwanted items for reuse. They will usually accept items like furniture, large appliances and household bric-a-brac, and some have stores where they will sell anything still usable.

Need a community group or school fundraising idea? Try a market swap day where families donate clothes, books and household items to be sold or auctioned, or hold a garage sale in your community.

Remember the old saying, ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’.

Have good systems in place

Habits become routine more quicklythan you think. Set up a space in your home dedicated to recycling such as the garage, kitchen, laundry or outside the back door. Label containers for each type of recycling stream – a bucket for your kerbside recycling, a compost bucket with a lid, a large canvas bag for soft plastics and a small crate for plant pots. Keep a box in the car for items that can be recycled at Mitre 10 stores and supermarkets.

The easier you can make it to sort your recycling, the more likely you are to develop and retain new behaviours!

Get people on board

This can be the hardest part, especially if it’s others who derail your recycling effort!

If you have children, turn it into a game or sticker chart opportunity, or incentivise teenagers by making recycling part of pocket money chores.

If you have a reluctant partner or flatmate, make it as easy as possible. Try adding one element at a time to change behaviours gradually. For example, for the first month, focus on rinsing kerbside recycling items properly. Once that’s become a habit, taking only a few seconds, add a soft plastics basket or bag to the kitchen. You’ve got this!

To finish, some great advice from Mitre 10… aim for progress over perfection. Small changes over time are more likely to become ingrained, so keep it simple. Every little action helps.

Learn more about Mitre 10’s sustainability journey and initiatives online at


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