Transforming Recycling in Aotearoa

Too much rubbish is ending up in landfills and our environment which is why the New Zealand Government is keen to hear your views on proposals to transform recycling in Aotearoa.

The three proposals are:

  • A Container Return Scheme

A container return scheme (CRS) incentivises people to return their empty beverage containers for recycling and/or refilling in exchange for a small refundable deposit. Our existing systems don’t incentivise people to recycle beverage containers, particularly away from home (such as, at a park or beach, while at work, traveling or eating out). 

A CRS is complementary to kerbside recycling systems, as it improves recycling outcomes both at and away from home. The main aim of a CRS is to collect as many beverage containers as possible, so that more containers can be recycled and fewer containers are littered, stockpiled or landfilled. 

A NZ CRS could increase beverage container recovery to 85 per cent or higher, which means that the scheme could receive over 2 billion beverage containers annually for recycling. This would see an increase of over 1 billion containers recycled annually.

  • Improvements to Household Kerbside Recycling 

Kerbside recycling and food scraps collections are the main way households divert waste from landfill, returning resources to the economy and reducing climate emissions from our waste.

Currently only a third of household materials placed at kerbside are collected for recycling, with the rest placed in the rubbish. More than 300,000 tonnes of food scraps are sent to New Zealand landfills every year, rotting and producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. 

The proposals aim to increase the quality and quantity of materials collected for recycling, reducing climate emissions, recycling resources through our economy and returning nutrients to our soil.

  • Separation of Food Scraps from General Waste for all Businesses 

Food waste is estimated to contribute 22 percent of New Zealand’s emissions from landfills that accept general household and business waste. To meet our national emissions targets, the Climate Change Commission has recommended we aim to reduce emissions from all landfills by at least 40 percent by 2035. 

To reduce food waste sent to landfill, the Government is proposing that all businesses should separate food waste from general waste and that households should be provided with a kerbside food scraps collection 

Feedback is being sought on this proposal and what this would mean for businesses, expecting that all businesses would need to provide space for one or more separate food waste bins and train staff to use them.

To have your say and to be involved in informational webinars on the proposed changes, visit