What Can I Recycle?

UC's waste and recycling system is changing.

From December 2015, some items that used to be recycled now must be put in the red landfill bins. This is because some types of plastic and packaging are no longer being accepted by UC's end-point recyclers.

All staff and students can make a difference by sorting their waste correctly to minimise the contamination of campus recycling. If recycling is contaminated, it could go to landfill at a high cost to UC and the environment.

Take notice of the stickers on campus bins. Updated stickers and posters showing the changes will be rolled out from December 2015 to January 2016.

Examples of items that must now be put in the red landfill bins include;

  • plastic lids off single use takeaway cups
  • yoghurt and cardboard pottles
  • sandwich packs
  • sushi containers
  • cardboard pottles

For more information about what to put in which bin:

  1. Download a copy of an up-to-date poster: UC Waste and Recycling Poster 2015 (PDF, 2.4MB).
  2. See below for copies of the new stickers you will see on the bins.

For any queries about these changes, please contact the Sustainability Projects Facilitator Katie Nimmo at katie.nimmo@canterbury.ac.nz, or extn 6025 (364 2025).

What goes in which bin?


You can recycle a mix of plastics and metals in this bin, including:

  • Plastic cups
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Clean aluminium and tin/steel cans
  • Milk bottles
  • Empty, clean plastic supermarket bags (no other plastic bags)
  • Shrink wrap and bale wrap
  • Small amounts of other metal
  • No food or organics
  • No compostable or biodegradable plates or cups
  • No plastic lids for single use takeaway cups


You can recycle all food scraps and organic material in this bin, including:

  • Fruit and peels
  • Tea bags
  • Sandwiches
  • Cakes
  • Meat
  • Coffee grounds (and filters)
  • Flowers
  • Any other plant material
  • All food waste (both raw and cooked)
  • No Plastic
  • No coffee stirrers
  • No chopsticks
  • No cardboard or paper


You can recycle virtually all paper in this bin, provided that it is clean and non-confidential, including:

  • Clean paper
  • Envelopes (including envelopes with windows)
  • Newspapers and magazines (including glossy ones)
  • Books
  • Course readers
  • Exercise books
  • Thin cardboard/box-board
  • Printed office paper (stapled pages are ok)
  • Glossy paper
  • Clean paper towels
  • Unsoiled paper cafe bags
  • No Plastic
  • No Food or organics
  • No laminated posters
  • No Soiled Paper
  • No Corrugated Cardboard - please recycle this separately
  • No Confidential Paper - please shred this first or, request a document-destruct bin from Cleaning Services (ext 6481)
  • Leave cardboard and pizza boxes next to bins


If you notice a paper wheelie bin is full, please report it to Cleaning Services on extn. 6481 (or the FM custodian at UC-Dovedale campus, extn 44006).

Anything that cannot be put in another bin should be placed in the landfill bin. This includes:

  • Single use-takeaway cups AND plastic lids
  • Polystyrene food containers or cups
  • Soiled paper
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Cardboard pottles
  • Coffee stirrers and chopsticks
  • Tetrapaks
  • Sushi containers
  • UCSA sandwhich packs
  • Plastic plates
  • Yohgurt pottles
  • Plastic food wrappings such as pie wrappers and muesli bar wrappers
  • Foil food wrap, such as chip packets
  • Plastic packaging including bubble wrap
  • Chewing gum
  • Overhead transparencies
  • Laminated posters
  • No food or organics

Single-use takeaway coffee cups can be placed in blue bins. These bins are part of a unique trial which explores the feasibility of composting single-use coffee cups.  This will determine if a new pathway to divert waste from landfill will be effective. These bins have been placed at strategic points around campus (mostly close to cafes).  The cups collected through these bins are sorted at UC to make sure there is no contamination in them. Please remember, these are for empty cups only and not for any other items (e.g. pie wrappers, bottles or any other contaminant). Find out more about composting by UC.


What shall I do if I'm not sure if I can recycle a particular item? Put it in the red landfill bin. This will help to minimise contaminating recycling.

Why is it important to minimise waste to landfill and maximise recycling?

  1. Recycling helps to reuse materials that would otherwise have to be sourced from raw commodities, which may be a limited resource and require significant energy input to extract and process.
  2. Waste to landfill charges by volume are more expensive than recycling. Maximising recycling and minimising waste helps to manage UC's operating costs.
  3. Reducing waste sent to landfill helps to extend the life of expensive landfills such as the Kate Valley landfill which is built and managed to best-practice standards.

What are the environmental impacts of waste?

  1. Landfills produce green house gases, such as methane.
  2. Unless properly designed and managed, landfills can pollute land and water. Water that leaches through landfills become contaminated with heavy metals, oils and organic compound from the decomposition of waste. Unless the leachate is collected and treated in properly designed landfills, these contaminants enter the environment.
  3. Burning waste releases hazardous and toxic substances into the air.

What else is UC doing to reduce waste sent to landfill?


What Else Can I Recycle?

The following items can be deposited in the appropriately labeled collection box located in your resource room, tearoom, or other common area in your department:

Toner and ink cartridges

All toner cartridges from photocopiers, printers (including laser, inkjet, and dot-matrix printers), and fax machines can be reused or recycled. Simply put them in one of the Ricoh toner cartridge collection boxes (any brand accepted, not just Ricoh). Your department's collection box is usually in the resource room and/or computer technician area.

To request a toner recycling box or if you have a full box to be emptied, please make a Beims web-request to the Warehouse.

Dovedale site only: put by your department’s out-going mail box or drop off to Facilities Management office.

Computer and other electrical equipment/parts

For disposal of IT equipment (computers, laptops, peripherals etc), Learning Resources manages the IT Recycling Service. Please lodge a request through the IT Self Service tool for assistance.



Place batteries in the battery recycling box in your departmental resource room.

Corrugated Cardboard boxes Please flatten all boxes, remove any inside packaging (e.g. polystyrene), and leave the cardboard beside the nearest paper recycling wheelie bin or rubbish bin, or beside four-bin stacks for offices which have them. Cleaning staff will remove any flattened cardboard and keep it separated for recycling. In outdoor bin stations, small amounts of cardboard can be placed in the paper recycling bin
Expanded polystyrene Please leave separately next to your nearest central bin stack. An example of expanded polystyrene is the white foam material computers are packaged in.
Used plastic parcel and courier bags Put them in your department's internal mail box. They will be collected by mail staff.
Other items Other items being collected from particular departments on campus for recycling include fluorescent light tubes, scrap metal, plus pallet wrap and strapping.
Reusable Items

Consider setting up a departmental Free Table, or asking to use one of the Free Tables dotted around UC. Visit our Free Table page for more information including tips for what to put on a Free Table, locations at UC, and posters to download and adapt to advertise your Free Table.

We also have two early childhood centres on campus that appreciate receiving bits and pieces for young children to use. Examples of creative items include: coloured paper or cardboard, sellotape reels, tubes, bubble wrap, clean containers, clean straws, clean bottle caps, brightly coloured items, and any pencil stubs that you may no longer use but small children could.

Another way of getting rid of your unwanted stuff is to find someone who does want it. Visit the Christchurch Freecycle group >>,

  • Sustainability Office
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800
    Christchurch 8140 
    New Zealand
  • katie.nimmo@canterbury.ac.nz
    Phone: +64 3 364 2025 
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