In 2018 The New Zealand recycling sector called on the Government to take strong and positive action to avert our national recycling crisis, reboot recycling, and create a circular economy in Aotearoa. The sector released a discussion document which can be downloaded above titled Rebooting Recycling – What can Aotearoa do? The document outlines a range of both short and long-term actions the Government should consider.


The market for recycled materials had collapsed because China was no longer accepting the quantity of material for recycling that they used to.

The reduction in demand has seen prices for recyclable materials fall dramatically.  Sellers of these commodities have sought other markets, but there is not sufficient capacity currently in the plants outside of China to process all the materials.  This has meant stockpiles are building up and some material may not be able to find an end market.

Discussion document:

In May 2018 a group of key stakeholders from New Zealand’s recycling sector met to share their experiences and to provide information, which has helped to inform this discussion document.

Actions that need to happen now include:

  • access to funding, to ensure recyclables aren’t sent to landfill
  • facilitating national communications, and
  • gathering better data on recyclable materials

Other actions that will take longer, but that will help build a more robust system and deliver a circular economy include:

  • revising the national waste strategy,
  • changes to the waste disposal levy,
  • product stewardship and design regulations,
  • ongoing public communications, and
  • a positive approach to public sector procurement of recycled products