Tauranga Council to inspect recycling bins

Images: Tauranga City Council.

With rubbish and recycling services back to normal and restrictions easing under Alert Level 2, Tauranga City Council says it will resume checking recycling bins for incorrect or unwashed materials this week.  

Council will be randomly checking the yellow-lid recycling bins and assigning a different coloured tag, depending on how well the household has recycled:  

-A green tag will be given to those who have recycled well.

-An orange tag will be given to those who need to improve.

-A red tag will be given to those who have too many incorrect or unwashed items in their bin and their bin will not be collected.

The orange and red tags will include what residents need to do to improve the quality of their recycling.

“A common issue we see is soft plastics in the recycling bin, things like chip packets and plastic bags. If we spot a recycling bin with soft plastics in it, we place a tag on the bin and ask the household not to put them in next time,” says Sam Fellows Sustainability and Waste Manager.

Those who receive red tags will not have their recycling collected and will need to sort their recycling better before their next collection.

Recycling bins that are contaminated with unwashed or incorrect items can result in whole truckloads of recyclable materials being sent to landfill. This is a waste of valuable resources and is bad for the environment, says Sam.

The recycling bin should only be used for washed plastic bottles and containers labelled 1, 2 and 5 as well as paper, cardboard, tins and cans.

Sam says those who put glass in their recycling bin at Alert Level 4, must remove it and place it in the blue glass bin if possible.  

Prior to Alert Level 4, 53 per cent of what council collected from the kerbside was recycled or composted, which meant Tauranga was on track to halve what households send to landfill by 2028.

“Alert Level 4 restrictions were just a small detour on our journey to sending less to landfill. With a focus on educating our residents on what good recycling habits look like, we will be able to get back to composting more and recycling better at Alert Level 2,” says Sam.

Sam says people should also consider what they can reduce, such as disposable coffee cups. 

“We’ve probably all had a cheeky coffee in a disposal cup under Alert Level 3, but these cups can’t be recycled, they have to go in the rubbish bin. See if your local cafe will take a reusable coffee cup instead, now that restrictions have eased.”

Council would also like to encourage residents to start using their food scraps bin again, as this is one of Tauranga’s biggest waste problems, making up 33 per cent of what households sent to landfill in 2020.

You can also check what goes in each bin and download our comprehensive disposal guide by visiting

Rubbish and recycling services at Alert Level 2

  •   •  Transfer stations are now open for all services, delays are still expected due to continued safety precautions.

  •   •  All kerbside bins are collected as normal, glass is now sorted by our drivers into colours before being recycled.

  •   •  Assisted service and bin deliveries continue.

  •   •  Tauranga households with excess waste from Alert Level 4 restrictions can take two bags of excess waste transfer station for free until 5pm Tuesday, 14 September.

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Hang on a minute...

Posted on 15-09-2021 12:45 | By morepork

If I get red tagged, my bin won’t be collected, right? So, how could I ever break that condition? Am I now the not-proud owner of a hulking great plastic bin that I have no use for? If I recognize my sins and decide to try and do better, HOW do I get back on the righteous path of the Godly if they won’t collect my bin?

Brass neck

Posted on 14-09-2021 18:23 | By

The Council is inspecting me? I’m not worried, I’m sure they will be just as inept at checking bins as everything else.

Here’s a thought

Posted on 12-09-2021 13:40 | By The Sage

Instead of giving customers a grade for their performance using the bins, how about they assess their own performance. From where I am standing this hasn’t been so good so far. Within the first few weeks not all bins were emptied on target. During level 4 lockdown they couldn’t even empty the food bin. Many of the small bins have been damaged already by rough handling. I am pleased I stuck with my usual contractor. If the Council had continued to support local businesses instead of engaging an off shore consortium, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. Just wait for the prices to increase next year. They have already stumbled big time. So grade your own performance first.

Reality Check.

Posted on 11-09-2021 14:14 | By morepork

1. None of us wanted this solution. 2. It was imposed purely for politics and it only benefitted overseas interests at the expense of Kiwi businesses. (How did they get away with that? Because they answer to no-one and we had no say in it). 3. It is here and it will not be removed. Passive resistance (like not using the bins properly or refusing to pay the Rates) will not "work". You are making more aggravation for yourself long-term. 4. Make the best of it and "go with the flow". There can be benefits ecologically and it would be good to salvage SOMETHING of value from this whole fiasco. I LOVED some of the imaginative uses described for the bins, but it won’t make any difference. The chips in the lid rim of yellow bins are NOT Big Brother; they are supposed to help with data collection... YMMV.

Old Dog New Tricks.

Posted on 11-09-2021 09:52 | By Justin T.

For goodness sake you lot, stop your whining, it’s not rocket science, it’s not time consuming on your part and it’s the socially conscious thing to do. Its not water wastetage if you rince in your dish wash water or if you put a plug in a sink. Yes I had a moan about #5 but that’s for the benefit of the environment. Yes it’s not a 100% cure to the environmental problem but it’s a step in the right direction which will improve further as recycling upscales like the recent addition of #5. Yes we need the inspections because quite frankly you lot are making excuses and don’t care. Thankfully your children are being taught the benefits of environmental care and recycling and maybe the upcoming generations will clean up our mess. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem!

@ Justin T & Gordonk

Posted on 10-09-2021 20:31 | By

Hey Justin I also wondered about the #5’s as well. As for the milk bottle lids, some are #1, some are #2 both of which according to TCC and the top of the bin we can recycle so I’m not splitting hairs and they get exactly that - #1 and #2 if they reject my recycling for the lids I will definitely take it further. Gordon, you’re walking very thin ice making self imposed deductions from your rates. I totally hear you and understand where you’re coming from but crikey that’s a very risky decision that could land you in financial hot water.

Interesting Gordonk

Posted on 10-09-2021 19:26 | By Kancho

That you think opting out and using your own contractor. Interesting that any contractors will survive to give service for the odd few. Also the charge is on the rates so deducting will be underpayment that I imagine council will move to collect as arrears. Of course they can put costs onto the property to be recovered on sale. I remember in Auckland a lady who nearly lost her house for unpaid rates . She beat them by being terminally ill so they got the arrears when she died.

It's a croc

Posted on 10-09-2021 18:58 | By CC8

Just a bunch of "educated" idealist , perfect people (in their own minds) who have no real world lives. Plastic people in plastic jobs who have been conned by big business. Big internationals who have realised that they cannot compete with the locals on service and personality. Council staff who have no idea of the realities of life!! We used to fill one 240 liter bin every 4 weeks ($120.00/year). Now 4 bins 270/ Caveman says all in one bin and use the scrap bin for some DIY , I use mine for auto parts rust removal, and the nice green scrap bin for brewing beer, its even got a locking sealing lid! The blue one is good for gardening , I have forgotten why they gave us that on.


Posted on 10-09-2021 16:18 | By

It’s all very draconian. Perhaps a plastics course would help people out. Is it the bin or the person who gets tagged?

by the way

Posted on 10-09-2021 13:33 | By

how do they inspect your rubbish bins if you have tham locked up behind your fence.

Opt out of this collection

Posted on 10-09-2021 11:29 | By Gordonk

This service is rubbish no collection of missed collections since July, I have opted out and use a contractor - absolutely great guy. I have also deducted the cost $200 or so from my rates why pay for a service you are not receiving. What a lot of rubbish over a system that does nothing.

Transfer station

Posted on 10-09-2021 11:24 | By Kancho

Mm take excess waste in twk bags for free to the transfer station really ? How generous!. A twenty eight kilometre trip and time is hardly free since South Tauranga have no transfer station since the closing of Maleme street. Worse if a project needs more and a contractor needed to take away rubbish the cost through the roof. Council clearly doesn’t care to serve rate payers in the south with any alternative, it’s easier to just remove service and increase charges and rates


Posted on 10-09-2021 10:32 | By Justin T.

When did plastic #5 get included in the recycling? It’s not in the book that came with the bins or on the label on the bins. Then there’s all the Milk Bottle Lids that have #1 on them yet we must NOT recycle any Lids according to the same information!

Council winning at every step

Posted on 10-09-2021 10:32 | By

Rorting the ratepayer for a mandatory kerbside service they didn’t necessarily want, rorting them for the cost of metered water to wash everything, rorting them the cost of waste water based on metered consumption.

Water shortage.

Posted on 10-09-2021 10:27 | By Accountable

The Council is expecting everything to be done for them. Cleaning recycled rubbish is totally uneconomic for the ratepayer when they have to pay for the extra water used to clean it. Much more economical for everybody to put everything in the general waste and we can save water as it is a commodity that is in short supply. When the Three Waters Legislation is approved we will also pay additional water charges to the 50% Iwi owners which will make water worth more than gold! Dump the recyclable’s and save for your retirement!

Simple answer !

Posted on 10-09-2021 09:52 | By The Caveman

Everything in the "rubbish" bin!!


Posted on 10-09-2021 09:47 | By dumbkof2

we have to do all their work for them and then they charge us as well


Posted on 10-09-2021 09:16 | By

Apparently food scraps made up "33 per cent of what households sent to landfill in 2020". If that is true, why are the food scrap bins so small?

Just like school

Posted on 10-09-2021 08:24 | By waiknot

Remember when you got different coloured stars based on behaviour.