What is happening

We are:

  • making materials collected from households for recycling the same across Aotearoa New Zealand from 2024

  • ensuring kerbside recycling services are provided to households in urban areas (ie, towns of 1000 people or more) by 2027

  • making food scraps collection services available to households in all urban areas by 2030.

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 held in 2022. It drew strong public support for these initiatives.

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. 

What will be collected in household recycling bins

From February 2024, only the following will be collected for recycling.

kerbside recycling illustration

Materials for kerbside collection:

  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic bottles and containers marked 1, 2, and 5
  • Aluminium and steel tins and cans.

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 2030.

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

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 2027 
    • more than half of Kiwis will have access to food scrap collections by 2027
    • all urban households will have access to food scrap collections by 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 standarisation of household kerbside recycling will give businesses confidence in choosing products and packaging that are recyclable throughout the country.

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.

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