How it works…in Timaru…

  • Materials suitable for recycling are placed by households and businesses into 240-litre wheeled bins with yellow lids.
  • These bins are collected fortnightly and taken to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
  • This is a building at the Redruth Resource Recovery Park (Timaru) where the materials are sorted and prepared for market.
  • The recycle trucks tip the co-mingled recyclables onto the floor of the building.
  • A loader picks up the materials and feeds the first of 26 conveyors in the sorting plant.
  • The material is primarily sorted using the latest technologies, including optical sorters, magnetic belts, air current separators and mechanical screens.
  • In addition, there are up to six staff providing further quality control and sorting of materials.
  • Each staff member stays at a station for one hour, and then they are rotated to another station, and so on.


The recyclable materials are sorted into the following categories:

Cardboard; mixed grade paper; soft drink bottles; milk bottles, mixed grade plastic containers; aluminium cans; steel cans and glass. All products, except glass, are baled on site for recycling markets, a mixture of local and international.

Statistics at the Timaru District MRF

  • There are two recycling collection trucks which collect recyclable materials in the urban area one week, and in the rural area the next week. Approximately 1,127 yellow bins are collected per truck per day in the urban area, with 600 per truck per day in the rural area.
  • The average weight of the recycle bins is 12 kg.
  • Approximately 181 tonnes of recyclable material is collected over a fortnight period.
  • A bale of milk bottles weighs approximately 240 kg and contains 4,800 bottles.
  • A bale of soft drink bottles weighs approximately 220kg and contains 4,800 bottles.
  • A bale of aluminium cans weighs approximately 160 kg and contains 9,400 cans
  • A bale of steel cans weighs approximately 310 kg and contains 5,170 cans.
  • A bale of paper weighs approximately 680kg.
  • A bale of cardboard weighs approximately 600kg.

How other councils operate materials recovery

A short video from Taranaki shows a similar sorting facility in action.