Reducing waste on the go

Reducing your waste when you’re outside the home doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, it just takes a little preparation and persistence to nail the habit of remembering your reusables.

Produce bags

From July 1, 2023, the New Zealand Government phased out single-use plastic produce bags, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and required all fruit stickers to be compostable.

This will result in 1.8 million plastic produce bags not being made, used, and disposed of in Waipā every year. For New Zealand, it will prevent 150 million single-use produce bags being manufactured every year.

We have all become quite good at bringing our shopping bags with us, so now we just need to add our reusable produce bags to the mix. It’s a perfect pairing! And you have options - you can purchase some purpose-made reusable produce bags, use bags we already have, or we can embrace “nude food”…intrigued? Read on!

Use bags we already have

Reuse beats single-use every time!

  • Bread bags are great, just use a vivid to conceal the bar code and turn them inside out to prevent accidental scanning.
  • If you're a fan of online shopping, you probably have a few courier bags sitting around. These are also perfect for heavier produce items like apples or potatoes. Courier bags are usually quite thick, so they can handle a lot of trips to the supermarket and back
  • Pretty much any light plastic bag can be used!

Try to avoid heavy bags, like reusable shopping bags, as the produce will need to be removed and weighed separately, and that will take you some time at checkout.

Buy some

You can buy a few purpose-made reusable produce bags, or delicate wash bags from budget stores also work well. Keep your eyes peeled for handmade or upcycled reusable produce bags at local craft markets, like Ruth’s Recreations at the Pironiga Arts, Craft and Food Market.

Nude food

'Nude food' is where you place produce items directly in your trolley, onto the scale at checkout and then loose into your shopping bags.

All these plans are great, but totally useless if we forget our bags!

Tips to remember your reusable produce bags

  • Keep them inside your shopping bags
  • Hang them up on the front door handle, so they get back into your car
  • Keep a couple of spare bags in your glove box in case you do forget and for impromptu shopping trips

If you want to know more about the Government’s decision to ban produce bags, and other small single use plastic items like fruit label stickers, straws, stirrers, and cutlery, please check out the Ministry for the Environment website.


Did you know that plastic straws are in the top 10 items collected in beach clean-ups around the world?

They are lightweight and easily get blown into drains, rivers and oceans. Animals can mistake them for food and either become stuck in their airways or be fatal when ingested. In short, straws suck!

The Government has also phased out plastic and compostable plastic straws from July 2023 onwards. The Waipā Waste Minimisation Team encourage you to ditch straws altogether, or if you're finding soggy paper straws a bit hard to swallow - choose to reuse!

We're teaming up with your favourite cafes and juice bars to offer free stainless steel reusable straws. They come with a handy cleaning brush and organic fabric carry bag, so you can pop it in your bag and you'll never be caught short. Keep an eye out at your local and ask whether they’re participating in Straw Free ‘23.

Please note: People with disabilities or health conditions who still need to use single-use plastic straws will still be able to request and use them.

Coffee cups

Lots of people are surprised to hear that coffee cups can’t be recycled - not just in Waipā, or New Zealand, but everywhere!

But takeaway coffee cups are just cardboard, right? Why can’t they be recycled?

If they were, our morning coffees would end up in our laps. Each cup is lined with plastic and fused to make the cup great at holding hot liquid, but terrible when it comes to recycling. It’s incredibly hard to separate the card from the plastic, and they can’t be recycled.

You may have seen a leaf or similar symbol saying the cup or lid can be composted. That’s only true if you take the cup to a collection point for a commercial composter… if it goes it in the bin, it will end up in landfill.

Some cups have 'Made from recycled paper' printed on them, which is great - as it means the single use coffee cup isn’t made from new paper. However, it’s now lined with plastic, and can’t be recycled. The best thing to do?

Skip single use! We have a couple of tips that might help you:

Drink your coffee in the café in a washable ceramic mug, it's a really nice part of the day, and you will enjoy your coffee more!

Establish a “no cup - no coffee” rule with your partner or friends - so if you forget your reusable cup, you can’t get a coffee

Look out for reusable coffee cups in second hand shops or add it to your Christmas wish list. Grab a couple because getting them out of your car, washed and back into your car can take a few days. Having two or three allows you to always have a cup ready when you’re on the go

Keep a spare reusable coffee cup in your bag for caffeine emergencies

Your reusable mug doesn’t have to be fancy! Old mugs or jars with rubber bands for grip work just as well. Get creative!

Because however you look at it, a single use takeaway coffee cup is a handful of landfill.

The problem with takeaway coffee cups’