New recycling schemes to tackle rubbish head on

To turn around New Zealand’s record on waste, we’re transforming recycling – with improvements to kerbside recycling, a new container return scheme, and nationwide food scraps collection.

It’s no secret New Zealand has a waste problem. We’re currently generating more than 17 million tonnes of it yearly, and sending almost 13 million tonnes of that to landfill. That’s more than 860,000 rubbish truck loads of waste, every year.  

At the moment, 76% of our rubbish is completely wasted, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right systems in place, we could recover most of those materials and turn them into resources.

We know New Zealanders want to do the right thing, so we’re making it easier for everyone to recycle right. Our next steps to bring our recycling system up to global standards include:

  • standard kerbside recycling system, to make it simpler and easier for people to recycle.
  • A container return scheme that incentivises people to return their empty drink containers for recycling, with a small refundable deposit.
  • Nationwide household kerbside food scraps collection, as well as the separation of food scraps from general waste for all businesses.

Standardising kerbside recycling across the motu will reduce confusion around what can be recycled, and it’ll also help businesses design packaging that is recyclable anywhere in New Zealand. By supporting drink container recycling, we could prevent one billion bottles from going to landfill each year. 

Food scraps make up more than a third of a typical household’s rubbish and, when sent to landfill, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. By improving access to composting for families and businesses, we’ll cut our harmful emissions and return nutrients to the soil.

We want a future where everyone can easily reduce waste, reuse, and recycle. Sending less rubbish to landfill and recycling more is something we can all do to protect te taiao and tackle climate change.

To help ensure our proposals will work for everyone and make a real difference, we want Kiwis to have their say. Visit the Ministry for the Environment website now to read about our plan in more detail and tell us what you think. Your feedback will help shape the future of recycling.

These next steps build on the work we’ve already done to create a low-waste economy – which will not only protect our environment and reduce our emissions, but also grow jobs and boost growth, sustainably.

As part of our mahi to cut waste and make New Zealand’s clean, green image a reality, we’ve already banned single-use plastic bags and are working to phase out other problematic plastics, as well as investing in the research and development of sustainable alternatives. We’re also addressing food waste by backing initiatives that redirect food to people in need. 

There’s so much to gain – socially, environmentally, and economically – by shifting to low-emissions and low-waste systems. As part of our broader programme of work to combat the climate crisis, we’re excited to transform our recycling system for a more sustainable future.

Find out more about our work to tackle climate change and protect our environment here. Stay in the loop by signing up to our mailing list and following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.