Catching up with the rest of the world


New Zealand generates more than 17 million tonnes of waste each year, and we send almost 13 million tonnes of that to landfill. Our recycling rates are low compared to other countries, and we have too much litter. Of the materials New Zealanders place out for kerbside collection, only about one-third is recycled and composted. Around two-thirds are sent to landfills. In better-performing countries it is the other way around. Another major problem is that too much rubbish goes into recycling bins, and too many recyclables go into rubbish bins. New Zealand households incorrectly dispose of 178,000 tonnes of material at the kerbside each year. 70,000 tonnes of rubbish are placed in recycling bins contaminating the recycling. 108,000 tonnes of recyclables are placed in the rubbish and can’t be recycled. We need to make recycling more straightforward and less confusing. This consultation is about improving the way we recycle and recover waste. My goal is to bring our recycling systems up to global standards.

Moving from planning to action

There are three connected initiatives: In the first part, we’re proposing a container return scheme. This scheme will encourage people to return their drink containers for recycling in exchange for a small refund. Through a container return scheme, we expect to reduce litter and recover over 85 per cent of eligible containers. The second part addresses our household kerbside recycling collections across New Zealand. A standardised system will improve the quality of what is recycled, reduce recycling costs, and be easier understand. Over time people will also have access to a food scraps bin at kerbside, which will help us reduce our carbon footprint. The third part is about separating business food waste from general waste. Diverting our business food waste away from landfill is needed to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make better use of organic material to improve our soil, feed animals, or to produce biogas. I encourage you to have your say and look forward to receiving your input.


This consultation starts on 13 March 2022 and ends at 11:59pm on 22 May 2022. When the consultation period has ended, officials will analyse submissions and provide advice to the Government.

Read More

New Zealand Ministry of Environment, 12-05-22