Recycling FAQs

Where does UC’s waste go when it is taken off campus?

The UC has a contract with Envirowaste, which owns Mastagard. Mastagard pick up the separate waste collections from the UC and transports them to their plant in Bromley where the recycling and paper collections are further sorted into grades for best practice recycling. The Organics collection goes to Living Earth, and the Landfill rubbish goes to Christchurch’s main landfill at Kate Valley.More about Envirowaste's environmental policy.

How do I order more paper trays or waste containers for the office?

To order more paper recycle trays or black waste containers for additional staff, simply put in a Beims web-request to the Warehouse stating how many paper trays and waste containers you need and where they they should be delivered to.
To request an additional bin, or other kind of central bin, please contact Cleaning Services (extn. 6481).

Do the numbers inside the recycling sign on the bottom of plastic items indicate if they can be recycled?

Mastagard can recycle all products that are accepted in people’s homes via the council system. In essence, if it has a number on the bottom of it they can recycle it provided it is clean (excluding #6 plastics, or polystyrene).

Why is it important to separate our waste into these separate bins?

Waste must be separated into these bins so it is able to be properly recycled. If recyclable materials are put in landfill bins this means they are simply left to fill up more space in these exponentially increasing landfills instead of being recycled into new and usable materials. This is also true for organic material; this can be beneficial either directly or through composting processes for garden areas, rather than being put in the landfill where it contributes to the release of methane gas. By separating waste we are able to greatly reduce the amount of rubbish that is left to rot and take up space in our land; instead it is able to be re-utilised. This one step is one of the many ways you can contribute to a more sustainable campus, and a more sustainable Christchurch.

What do I do if I am disposing of an item not on the poster?

Here is a list of common items. If your item does not appear on this list please contact the Sustainability Office.

  • Batteries: Recycle in separate battery recycling bin - Put batteries in the battery recycling bin in your departmental resource room.
  • Biodegradable Plates/Cups: Landfill or Blue Coffee Cup Composting Bins - 
  • Bottle tops and caps (plastic): Remove from bottle and place separately in Landfill (see below)
  • Bottle tops and caps (metal): Remove from bottle and place separately in Landfill (see below)
  • Coffee filters :Empty coffee grounds into Organics and put filter in Landfill
  • Cups (biodegradable): Landfill or Blue Coffee Cup Composting Bins (see below)
  • Cups (polystyrene): Landfill – The UC Sustainability Office is committed to reducing non-recyclable polystyrene on campus. If you see these items being used please contact the Sustainability Office
  • Cutlery (plastic/wooden): Landfill
  • eWaste: How to recycle eWaste at UC
  • Envelopes with Plastic Windows: Paper
  • Fabric: Small pieces to Landfill, large pieces should be donated to a charity or dropped off at the Ecodrops
  • Gladwrap (food): Landfill
  • Glossy Paper: Paper
  • Laminated Posters: Landfill
  • Noodle pottles (cardboard/plastic/polystyrene): Landfill
  • OHP’s (overhead transparencies): Landfill
  • Paper Bags (food): If clean, Paper; if greasy/soiled, Landfill
  • Paper Towels: Landfill
  • Pens: Landfill
  • Pizza boxes: Empty contents and leave with cardboard next to bin set
  • Plates (plastic): Landfill, please remove food waste first
  • Plates (cardboard): Landfill or Blue Coffee Cup Composting Bins – this is because food waste contaminates the paper stream.
  • Plates (biodegradable): Landfill or Blue Coffee Cup Composting Bins (see below)
  • Polystyrene Cups/Plates/Food: Landfill – the UC Sustainability Office is committed to reducing non-recyclable polystyrene on campus. If you see these items being used please contact the Sustainability Office
  • Polystyrene Packaging: Clean polystyrene packaging can be recycled, please place in a clear bag and place next to the bins
  • Shrinkwrap (packaging): Recycling
  • Sushi (container): Landfill, empty all contents
  • Sushi (chopsticks, soy sauce): Landfill
  • Tin Foil/Plates: Landfill
  • Tissues: Landfill
  • Toner Cartridges: Ricoh Toner Collection Boxes will accept all toner cartridges (see below).

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?

 Additional items



Put batteries in the battery recycling bin in your departmental resource room.

Biodegradable or compostable cups/plates

Why do these have to go in the Landfill or Blue Coffee Cup Composting bin?

The current organics collections are sorted off-site by a company that uses a machine unable to distinguish these items from similar plastic/cardboard versions and as such, rejects them as being non-organic. In addition, biodegradable or compostable products require high temperatures to degrade. Christchurch's municiple composting facilities uses a low temperature, slow system, which cannot break compostable products down quickly enough to be incorporated into the system.

Bottle tops/lids

Why do bottle tops and lids have to be removed for bottles to be recyclable?

Because of the different types of materials used to make bottle lids these must be removed. Plastic and metal caps should go in the Landfill bin.

Single use coffee cups and lids

Why can single use takeaway cups and lids no longer be recycled at UC?
Due to the UC’s contract with recycling and waste company Mastagard we are no longer able to recycle takeaway coffee cups. The wet strength coating on the inside of the cups means they cannot be recycled into a useful fibre, plus the volume of cups has increased significantly over the years. Consequently the end-point recycler in China is no longer accepting single-use takeaway cups.

All single use takeaway coffee cups must be put in the RED landfill bins, or BLUE coffee cup composting bins. All single use takeaway coffee cup lids must be put in the RED landfill bins. They cannot be recycled because they are contaminated with food, plus due to their size and shape, the recycling sorting machine cannot sort them properly into the recycable plastics stream. .


Can I put envelopes with plastic windows in the paper bin?
Yes, these go in the Paper bin with other envelopes.


Do we have to remove labels from things that are recyclable?
No, labels can be left on recyclables as they are usually removed in the cleaning process.


Why can’t soiled/dirty paper be recycled?

Although the paper itself is recyclable, the residue left from food etc. that seeps into the paper makes it unable to be reused. If soiled paper or cardboard is found in with the clean paper and cardboard, those recycling may assume the whole bin is contaminated by the seepage and not recycle any of it. This means that good recyclable papers would be unable to be recycled due to soiled items. These items should therefore be placed in the Landfill bins.

Toner cartridges

Where do I recycle these?

Toner cartridges from printers, photocopiers and fax machines can be disposed of in the Ricoh toner cartridge collections boxes which will generally be located in department’s resource room and/ or the computer technician area. They accept all brands, not just Ricoh. To request a cartridge recycling box or if you have a full box to be emptied, please make a web-request to the UC Warehouse. Toner cartridges are all able to be reused or recycled so it is important not to send them to landfill.

Dovedale Camps and College of Education staff only: put any toner cartridges by your department’s out-going mail box, and make a BEIMS request to the UC Warehouse