The red rubbish bin is collected every two weeks. The red bin is for all items except hazardous items and chemicals.

Use the Wheelie Bins App to find out what goes in each bin and get reminders to take the bins out each week.

Red lid Rubbish bin

What goes in your red bin

The red bin is for all items except hazardous items and chemicals.

The following items are not accepted in the green and yellow bins:

  • shopping bags
  • plastic film, wraps, straps, plastic bags, chip packets or soft packaging
  • liquid cartons, juice cartons, almond and soy milk etc
  • coffee cups and food packaging 
  • compostable and bio-degradable bags and packaging 

Soft plastics go in your red bin

Any plastic you can scrunch in your hand is soft plastic. All soft plastics must go in your red bin.

Common soft plastic items include:

  • plastic shopping bags
  • bread, pasta and rice bags
  • frozen food bags
  • courier bags
  • bubble wrap and plastic furniture wrapping 
  • plastic wrappers for confectionery, muesli bars and biscuits
  • cereal liners. 

These are just some of the examples of soft plastics. If you're unsure, you can search for specific items on our Wheelie Bins app.

Remember, if it can be easily scrunched in your hand it's soft plastic. 

Why can't you put soft plastic in the yellow bin?

Soft plastic packaging is not collected in the yellow bin as the processing equipment is only designed to handle clean, hard plastics.

Soft material often gets caught in the sorting machine causing breakdowns.

It also contaminates the other accepted items, which makes it difficult to sell them in the recyclable markets both locally and internationally.

What about the soft plastic recycling scheme?

The Soft Plastic Recycling programme is no longer operating in the South Island.  All soft plastics must go in your rubbish bin.

For more details, please visit the Soft Plastic Recycling website(external link).

Ash, timber and sawdust go in your red bin

Ash, timber off-cuts and sawdust can contaminate your organics bin or your home compost. They must be disposed of in your red rubbish bin.

How to safely dispose of hot ashes

  • Let ash cool for at least five days in a metal bucket or container before disposing of it in the red rubbish bin, otherwise it may cause a fire.
  • Place timber offcuts, sawdust and cold bagged ash only in your red rubbish bin when disposing of it.
  • Do not burn treated timber offcuts. When we burn treated timber, it releases large amounts of toxic heavy metals into the air we breathe, and the ash left behind contains 100 times the concentration of toxic heavy metals as the original piece of wood.

How is there a fire risk?

Ash waste needs to be cooled for at least five days before disposal, to ensure there is no risk of embers reigniting. We are working collaborative with the Fire Brigade to raise awareness of this issue, and as a result of bin, house and collection truck fires from ash waste.

If a bin is collected containing ash waste that has not been cooled, it causes a risk to public safety. We have had a number of fires in trucks, and the collection truck driver has had to act quickly to find a safe place to empty the collected waste. This causes not only a public safety issue but also causes delays to traffic and the remaining bin collections in that area.

What happens when we burn treated timber?

When you burn treated timber, not only are considerable amounts of toxic heavy metals released into the air we breathe, but the ash waste contains 100 times the concentration of toxic heavy metals than the original piece of timber/wood.

Background information

Heavy metals are found naturally in our environment, like in our tree clippings, but can also be concentrated by certain processes.

Timber may be treated which chemical solutions to prolong its life, particularly when used for outdoor and building purposes. It is difficult to identify whether timber has been treated or not, and once it’s in with all the other organics waste, we can’t get it out again – which means any compost we make from it is contaminated, and can’t be used in any soil.

In New Zealand, the following chemicals may have been used to preserve timber:

  • arsenic
  • copper
  • chromium

A kilogram of treated wood can contain over 8,000 times the levels of contamination, and we can’t remove it from the organics waste that goes in the green bin, or the compost that it’s turned into. That’s why we need to think about how we manage timber offcuts, sawdust and ash in our waste, to stop it getting in there in the first place.

As little as a third of an ice cream container of ash can be enough to contaminate the contents of one whole green bin collection truckload of organics waste. Once it’s in there, we can’t get it out, and contaminated compost can’t be added to soil to help grow our food and gardens.

Find a trusted firewood merchant

For a list of firewood suppliers which have been reviewed and accredited by Environment Canterbury please visit Warmer Cheaper(external link)

What can't go in your red bin

  • explosives and flammable material or gas bottles
  • liquid chemicals, household cleaners or dry chemicals
  • car, boat or truck batteries
  •  paints or solvents
  • dead animals or pets
  • hot material such as ashes
  • medical needles or sharp objects capable of puncturing the bin

You can take most of these items to your local EcoDrop or a transfer station for disposal.

 Want to do more? Helpful tip to reduce your waste.