Is New Zealand in a Recycling Revolution?

New Zealand is the most isolated nation in the world, filled with the most beautiful landscapes, with its rolling green hills, and vast lush fields. This is compromised by its inefficient recycling industry, lack of awareness and industry cohesion, coupled with the inattentiveness from previous governments, which has led to the recycling industry in New Zealand sitting decades behind other OECD countries.

In the last 6-12 months, we have laid witness to an outstanding resurgence of government policies, a catastrophic growth in awareness and commitment to push blood into the heart of New Zealand’s recycling industry. What we are currently witnessing is a Recycling Revolution.

Take a look at all the recent lines of action contributing to this revolution in the following headlines:

New Zealand’s recycling problem solved by a possible five bin solution in every home

Householders could face having to juggle up to five rubbish and recycling bins under new efforts to control New Zealand’s mountainous waste problem. The Government wants kerbside collections across the country to be standardized under a major push to cut the amount of rubbish going to landfill, avoid confusion and improve the quality of recycling.

Wheelie bins could be swapped for three 45-litre crates – which would not have lids – one each for paper and card, glass, and plastic and metal. Food waste, already collected in Christchurch, could be collected in special 23-litre waste bins, potentially costing councils $45 a household each year. Coupled with normal rubbish and green waste, it would mean potentially having five bins to haul to the bottom of the drive for collection.

Minister Eugenie Sage releases plan to recharge recycling

A task force set up last year in response to the Chinese Government’s ban on the import of many recycling materials is set to lead the charge in advancing recycling in New Zealand.

A green led environmental team run by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage with the mandate to recharge recycling in New Zealand.

“The task force looked at how our resource recovery system is functioning, how we can support more onshore processing of recyclables, and help New Zealand shift to a circular economy approach where products are better designed so that more materials can be recovered and re-used,” Eugenie Sage said.

The landfill levy is one of the most effective tools we have to help us change

The Government proposed increasing the levy and applying it to more landfill types. It has confirmed its plans to increase and expand the waste levy from the current $10 per tonne – set in 2009 – to $60 per tonne, to divert material from landfill.

It will use the revenue gathered from the waste disposal levy for resource recovery and waste minimization. Sage said, “expanding and increasing the waste levy is one of the best tools we have to incentivise reduced waste to landfill and prevent valuable resources from being thrown away.”

This “will ensure New Zealand emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic with a far better resources recovery and recycling system… filling major gaps in our waste infrastructure.”

New Zealand is also known to have one of the highest rates of household waste production per capita in the OECD.

Regulatory product stewardship would make producers responsible for specified problematic products at the end of life.

It would ensure the costs of proper waste management are paid by producers and consumers, not communities and the environment. The Government is proposing having regulated product stewardship for six priority products including electrical and electronic products.

This consultation will determine which products are included in the co-design of regulated product stewardship with business and other stakeholders. The overall intent of the proposals is to reduce the risk of harm from waste and increase economic and social benefits from a more circular use of resources.

"New Zealanders care deeply about reducing waste. That’s why I’m pleased to announce the next steps we’re taking to improve kerbside and commercial recycling, reduce contamination of recyclables so more materials can be recovered, and increase onshore processing of plastics and other materials,”

- Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.

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