Until October 2015, councils and businesses in New Zealand had used a variety of colours to indicate what items can be recycled in what bins. This created confusion when colours were used inconsistently and increased the likelihood of contamination. In October 2015 WasteMINZ, the Glass Packaging Forum and councils around New Zealand agreed on a standardised set of colours for mobile recycling and rubbish bins, crates and internal office bins. Then in 2016 the New Zealand Recycling Symbols (formerly known as the RONZ symbols) were updated to match the colours for mobile recycling and rubbish bins. Companies wishing to implement nationwide recycling schemes are strongly encouraged to use these colours both for their bins and also on their signage. This will ensure that the colours used are consistent with both public place recycling and household recycling.
Food /Food and Compostable Packaging / Food and Garden combined
Cans/ Metal/ Ewaste/Appliances
Plastics / Polystyrene
Paper / Cardboard
Construction and Demolition
Red triangle black font
For 240 litre and 120 litre wheelie bins, black or dark green should be used for the bin body. These colours maximise the amount of recycled content used in the production of the bins.
A factsheet outlining which colours to use for rubbish and recycling bins can be downloaded here.
A list providing details of New Zealand suppliers of indoor and outdoor recycling bins and accessories can be found here. The document is focused on the needs of commercial operations but could be applicable to households and schools. Inclusion in this document does not confer any preference or recommendation, suppliers are listed alphabetically.
There are currently 51 different recycling symbols. The choice of symbol depends on how recycling is separated in your organisation.
For more information about the symbols and how to use them please email [email protected]
The symbols have been translated into te reo Māori . WasteMINZ worked with Jacqui Forbes from Para Kore and Ian Christensen from He Kupenga Hao i Te Reo Māori to produce bilingual New Zealand Recycling Symbols.
The symbols can be downloaded here as a zipped folder. The symbols are available in both a portrait and landscape layout. They are editable so you are able to replace a kupu (word) if required, in consultation with your local iwi. The word list for the symbols can be downloaded here. Organisations are encouraged to use the standard translations, unless there are regional or local differences.
Effective signage assists in minimising contamination in recycling bins and minimises recyclables ending up in the rubbish bin. A guidance document has been created showing examples of effective signage for events and outlining considerations to take into account when developing signage. View the factsheet here.