Recycling week 2023 - 10 years in the making

19.09.23 03:31 PM By WasteMINZ
A Recycling Week initiative in 2017

Waste is a big issue in Aotearoa New Zealand. Every year, we send over 12 million tonnes of waste to landfill, of which around 4 million tonnes is readily recyclable material. While Kiwis want to do the right thing when it comes to waste and recycling, it is often seen as too confusing and complicated, leading to inaction.

In 2013, Reclaim launched Recycling Week, a free educational campaign focused on providing simple and fun information on waste minimisation and recycling. Ten years on, Recycling Week has grown to become Aotearoa New Zealand's largest national awareness-raising campaign for simple waste and recycling strategies, reaching millions of people around the country each year.

Educating Kiwis about recycling and waste minimisation


Over a decade ago, Reclaim recognised that there was a knowledge gap when it came to waste and recycling - a lot of Kiwis wanted to do the right thing, but didn't know how. In the absence of clear national guidance, Recycling Week was born. 


Since then, Reclaim has powered this annual educational campaign and its associated website (, which aims to bring fun activities and knowledge on waste and recycling to organisations, schools, and individuals across the country. Reclaim provides inspiration, ideas, and resources; it is then up to participants to use those resources and take action in ways that are most meaningful to them.


Recycling Week is primarily focused on the commercial sector as that is where the greatest volume of waste is produced and disposed of, presenting the greatest area of opportunity for diversion from landfill and overall waste minimisation.

People take part in Recycling Week 2017

Focusing on the waste hierarchy

Despite its name, Recycling Week focuses not just on recycling but on the entire waste hierarchy. Daily focuses guide participants through the stages of the hierarchy, starting with Procurement Monday (avoiding, rethinking, and redesigning), Waste-Free Tuesday (reducing), and Reusable Wednesday (reusing, repurposing, and repairing).  Recycling only features in Rinse & Clean Thursday, followed by Reflection Friday and Spring Clean Weekend which provide opportunities for participants to reflect on how they can take what they have learned into their work, school and home lives.

The resources available to participants provide a range of ideas on how to activate the different daily focuses and how to educate and engage those that wouldn’t otherwise participate. While the sky is the limit for participants' activities, the Recycling Week team provide some easy ways to educate staff, including daily quizzes, daily webinars, posters and assets. The new Educator's Playbook also makes activation easy for those in a school or educational environment, with activities designed to help get our younger generations thinking about waste and recycling in fun ways.

In order to make Recycling Week as accessible as possible, there are no barriers to entry - registration is free and open to everyone, regardless of where you are in New Zealand and who services your bins. The only costs may come from implementing activities, meaning that participation can be as easy and inexpensive as circulating the links to the quizzes and webinars!

Growth over 10 years

Recycling Week has engaged over 2.5 million Kiwis across hundreds of organisations and schools in Aotearoa New Zealand over the last 10 years. While the structure of Recycling Week has remained similar in the 10 years since its inception, with growth in participation and engagement, Recycling Week has continuously evolved in its branding, content, and ways to activate, such as introducing daily quizzes and webinars, and challenging more participants to join in on the action.

Just as Recycling Week was building strong momentum, the global Covid-19 pandemic hit, pushing all activities and engagement to be held mostly online during 2020 and 2021. With lockdowns behind us in 2022, Recycling Week saw a huge resurgence, with over 250 organisations participating in the week and achieving an overall reach of just under 2 million New Zealanders. 

This year, daily webinars aimed at individuals will be offered, covering a broad range of topics from composting and food waste to repairing, reusing and recycling, and what to do with non-traditional waste streams like e-waste, clothing and furniture. Our friends at Love Food Hate Waste will also be appearing in one of the daily webinars. 

A new case studies series is being released in the weeks leading up to Recycling Week 2023, which champions the businesses and organisations that are working hard to solve internal and external challenges when it comes to waste minimisation and recycling. The organisations included in the case studies series will be able to share their achievements, celebrate their successes and assist other businesses in achieving greater waste minimisation outcomes.

Recycling Week shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the campaign is getting progressively larger - with a month to go, there are already more registered participants than ever before. Exciting collaborations with organisations like SkyCity and Kiwi Property mean that more Kiwis will be working towards improving Aotearoa New Zealand’s waste footprint. 

It's not too late to join!  Find out more about Recycling Week here, and register for free at the links below: