Kerbside recycling: glass bottles and jars

What can go into your council kerbside recycling is now the same across Aotearoa. Find out about glass bottles and jars. 

Kerbside glass bottles

What you can put in your kerbside recycling

  • Clear, brown, green and blue glass bottles and jars. 

What you need to do before recycling

  • Remove the lid.

  • Rinse dirty food jars to get rid of the remaining food.

Water-saving tips when cleaning glass bottles and jars

  • Use a spoon or spatula to scrape out the remaining food.
  • Wash your glass bottles and jars when you are doing the dishes, or put them in the dishwasher if there’s room.

What you can’t put in your kerbside recycling

  • Glass bottles and jars used for medicines
  • Glass cookware
  • Drinking glasses, mugs, plates and jugs
  • Lightbulbs
  • Window glass
  • Broken glass
  • Lids from glass bottles and jars.

Why you can’t put these items in your kerbside recycling

  • Glass cookware is treated in the manufacturing process to withstand high temperatures. This means it won’t melt alongside bottles and jars. Put broken or chipped cookware in your rubbish bin.
  • Glass bottles and jars used for medicines may also be treated to withstand high temperatures. Some contain substances that are hazardous for staff handling.
  • Drinking glasses, mugs, plates and jugs are made from a different mix of materials to glass bottles and jars. This means they can't be recycled in your kerbside collection.
  • Lightbulbs are made from more than one material.

  • Window glass is too large and easily broken to be safely collected and recycled through your kerbside collection. It may also contain other materials (eg, laminated or safety glass).

  • Broken glass is hazardous to sorters. 

  • Lids are too small for recycling machinery to remove and sort.

Ways to recycle some of these items

Just because these items can’t be recycled at kerbside doesn’t mean you can’t recycle them.


Mitre10 collects old lightbulbs in its stores.

Lightbulb recycling [Mitre 10 website]


Donate unwanted glasses, mugs and plates to your local charity store.

Other items

Ask your council where you can recycle other glass items that can’t go in your kerbside recycling.

What glass bottles and jars are turned into

Most of the glass collected is turned into new glass bottles in Auckland.

In some parts of the country glass is crushed and reused:

  • as a sand substitute for roading and construction
  • in concrete paving stones and pavements
  • to make sand for water blasting
  • as a filter in swimming pools. 

How glass bottles and jars are turned into new bottles

  • Glass is separated by colour. This is either done at the kerbside or after crushing at the recycling plant.
  • Glass is crushed, sorted and cleaned to remove contaminants. The crushed glass is known as ‘cullet’.
  • Cullet is sent to a processing facility where it is mixed with other raw materials. The more recycled glass that is used, the fewer the raw materials that are needed and the less energy used.
  • Cullet is then melted in a furnace.
  • Moulds are used to create new bottles.

Where glass goes for processing

  • Collected glass is recycled and processed in Aotearoa.
  • Most goes to the Visy processing plant and furnace in Auckland to be turned into glass bottles.  

Amount recycled

According to the Glass Packaging Forum, in Aotearoa:

  • around 276,000 tonnes of glass bottles and jars are consumed annually.
  • 188,000 tonnes are collected for recycling from households and businesses.
  • in 2021, around 117,000 tonnes of glass were turned back into bottles. The remaining glass was used for roading or other uses.

Find out more