Kerbside recycling: paper and cardboard

What can go into your council kerbside recycling is now the same across Aotearoa. Find out about paper and cardboard.

Kerbside web pizza box

What you can put in your kerbside recycling

  • Cardboard
  • Pizza boxes (remove food scraps first)
  • Newspaper and magazines 
  • Office paper
  • Envelopes (you can include those that have a window)
  • Greeting cards (without glitter).

What you need to do before recycling

  • For cardboard food containers remove any food scraps such as pizza crusts and melted cheese.
  • Pull off any large plastic inserts such as plastic windows in cereal or pasta boxes.

What you can’t put in your kerbside recycling

  • Drink cartons such as those used for some juices or long-life milk
  • Cardboard tubes for chips
  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Waxed cardboard
  • Foil-based gift wrapping
  • Cards or wrapping with glitter
  • Shredded paper
  • Tissues and paper towels.

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

  • Some of these items also include other materials such as metal or plastic. When cardboard or paper is combined with a layer of plastic or metal, it can’t be recycled through kerbside collections. That’s because our processing facilities can’t separate the plastic and metal layers from the fibre.
  • Shredded paper is too small to be sorted.
  • Waxed cardboards have a polythene plastic lining.
  • Tissues and paper towels usually contain unrecyclable residues such as food scraps or cleaning chemicals.

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.

Food and beverage cartons

  • The Food and Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme accepts all clean food and beverage cartons (such as juice, stock, long-life milk and alternative milk cartons).
  • See drop-off locations for cartons.
  • Cartons must be fully opened out flat and washed before drop-off.

What paper and cardboard are turned into

  • Cardboard packaging
  • Fruit trays
  • Egg cartons.

How paper and cardboard are turned into new cardboard packaging

  • Paper and cardboard are collected and sorted, and contaminants are removed.
  • At the paper mill materials are soaked in hot water, converted into pulp, and filtered.
  • The pulp is sprayed onto screens, drained, and formed into a wet sheet.
  • The wet sheet is passed over heated rollers to dry. The dry sheets are cut into the correct size and shape for new cardboard products.

Where paper and cardboard go for processing

  • Almost half of our recycling is reprocessed in Aotearoa with the rest exported.
  • There are capacity limits for how much can be reprocessed in Aotearoa.
  • Four main companies in Aotearoa can take recycled paper and cardboard and turn it into new packaging:

  • Paper and cardboard collected in the same bin as glass have the lowest recycling quality. Processors in Aotearoa do not have the equipment to separate glass shards from paper and cardboard. This paper and cardboard is baled up and sent to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam for recycling.

Amount recycled

  • Around 550,000 of the 830,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard products produced every year is sent for recycling. This includes paper and cardboard from households and businesses.

Find out more