What is happening

  • We are making materials collected from households for recycling the same across Aotearoa New Zealand from 1 February 2024 see:
  • We are ensuring kerbside recycling services are provided to households in urban areas (ie, towns of 1000 people or more) by 1 January 2027
  • We are making food scraps collection services available to households in all urban areas by 1 January 2030 (for councils with an existing organics processing facility nearby, food scraps collection services will need to be available by 1 January 2027).
  • As well as providing households with food scrap collections, we are looking to get businesses ready to separate food scraps from general waste by 2030.

These changes follow the Transforming Recycling consultation in 2022 which showed public support for these initiatives.

See Factsheet for local government and the waste industry for more detail on the changes.

Why these changes are happening

Currently we generate more than 17 million tonnes of waste each year. We send almost 13 million tonnes of that to landfill. Food scraps make up 22 per cent of landfill emissions.

Of the materials households place out in kerbside bins and bags, two-thirds are placed out as rubbish and sent to landfill. In some countries two-thirds are placed out as recycling and only one-third is sent to landfill.

A transformed recycling and food scrap system in Aotearoa New Zealand will:

  • increase the quality and quantity of materials collected for recycling
  • reduce:
    • the amount of recycling and food scraps sent to landfill as rubbish
    • disposal costs 
    • greenhouse gas emissions 
  • recycle more resources through our economy and put more nutrients back into our soil. 

By 2030, we want at least 50 per cent of household waste to go into recycling and food scrap bins rather than ending up in landfills. 

Standard materials for kerbside collections

Standardising the materials collected across the country will improve the clarity and effectiveness of kerbside collections.

This will reduce confusion about what can and cannot be recycled at the kerbside and rebuild public trust in our recycling systems.

Detailed requirements for what materials are accepted in council managed kerbside recycling, food scraps, and food organic and garden organic collections can be found on the New Zealand Gazette website.

This guidance document provides industry and local government further explanatory detail on the kerbside standard materials changes.

Recycle right at kerbside has information for the general public on what can go into council kerbside recycling from 1 February 2024.

Food scrap collections

Kerbside food scrap collections will be a new service for many households – with all households in urban areas to have this service in place by 1 January 2030.

In urban areas with food processing facilities already available, some households will have this service in place earlier (by 1 January 2027).

Reducing food waste to landfill is an important way we can all contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Food scrap collections will make it easier for people who can’t easily compost at home.

Recycling collections

All households in urban areas will have a kerbside recycling service in place by 1 January 2027.

This will improve access to kerbside recycling services across Aotearoa New Zealand and make it easier for more people to recycle.

What these changes mean for households

The changes will:

  • provide clarity on what can be recycled and what can’t
  • reduce the amount of household waste going into your rubbish bin (so you may pay less for your rubbish service)
  • provide greater access to household recycling and food scrap services: 
    • an additional 200,000 people will have access to a kerbside recycling service by 1 January 2027 
    • more than half of Kiwis will have access to food scrap collections by 1 January 2027
    • all urban households will have access to food scrap collections by 1 January 2030 as more food waste processing facilities are built.

As the changes won’t come into effect straight away, refer to your local council for details about kerbside recycling collections in your area.

What these changes mean for businesses

The standardisation of household kerbside recycling will give businesses more clarity around the packaging materials that will be accepted for recycling throughout the country. This can inform design and packaging decisions for the products that they make and/or sell.

We are working towards businesses having to separate their food waste from general rubbish by 2030. Those near food scrap processing facilities may need to do so by 2027 — in line with the timeframe for household food scrap collections.

This work is being progressed alongside proposed new waste legislation. Once in place, it is likely that the proposed requirement will affect most businesses and organisations that produce waste.

What these changes mean for local government and the waste industry

Local government and the waste industry have key roles in making changes happen for household recycling and food scrap collections.

Some councils will need to start or stop collecting materials in their household kerbside recycling collections.

All councils will need to meet an increasing minimum standard for the amount of household waste diverted from landfill.

Of the total household waste placed at kerbside councils will need to divert:

  • 30 per cent by 2026
  • 40 per cent by 2028
  • 50 per cent by 2030.

Many councils with recycling collections are already diverting 30 per cent and some councils with food scraps collections are already diverting 40 to 50 per cent.

Waste companies will be required to collect and report more data on the waste they collect from households in regular kerbside services.

See Factsheet for local government and the waste industry for more detail on the changes 

We are working closely with councils and the waste industry on implementing these changes. 

Funding is available to support the transition to the new system.

See Waste Minimisation Fund