Priority product stewardship

The Government has declared six priority products for product stewardship under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. This is part of a wider plan to reduce the number of materials ending up in landfills or polluting the environment.

What priority product stewardship is

Priority product stewardship is when regulations may be used to: 

  • move towards a circular economy and ensure fuller use of resources
  • place responsibilities for managing end-of-life products on producers, importers and retailers rather than on consumers, the wider community or councils.

About product stewardship in New Zealand

Six priority products for product stewardship

In July 2020, the Government announced six products to be declared ‘priority products’ for the establishment of product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (WMA).

The products are:

  • plastic packaging
  • tyres
  • electrical and electronic products (e-waste including large batteries)
  • agrichemicals and their containers
  • refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases
  • farm plastics.

This announcement followed public consultation held in 2019.

Government to regulate environmentally harmful plastic packaging, tyres, e-waste [Beehive website]

Declaration of Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

Process for declaring a priority product

To declare a priority product the Minister must be satisfied that:

  • either:
    • the product will or may cause significant environmental harm when it becomes waste
    • or there are significant benefits from reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery, or treatment of the product
  • and:
    • the product can be effectively managed under a product stewardship scheme.

Declaration of ‘priority product’ under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 creates an obligation and opportunity:

  • as soon as possible after a product is declared a priority product, a product stewardship scheme for that product must be developed and accreditation obtained (section 10)
  • an option becomes available to prohibit the sale of a priority product except in accordance with the accredited scheme (section 22(1)(a)). This means that participation in an accredited scheme is mandatory. This reduces 'free-rider' issues commonly experienced by voluntary accredited schemes.

Declaration of priority products notice and general guidelines

Declaration of Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

General guidelines for Product Stewardship Schemes for Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

Updates on priority products for product stewardship


Regulations to support product stewardship for tyres were approved by Government and come into effect in two tranches.

Tranche One

From 1 March 2024, tyres must be sold in accordance with the accredited tyre scheme.

To fund the scheme, a tyre stewardship fee is collected on all regulated tyres when they enter the New Zealand market.

Tranche Two

From 1 September 2024, the scheme will begin full operations.

Scheme participants will receive payments for the services they provide that involve end-of-life tyre movements, such as for the take-back service (eg, collection and transportation).

Incentive payments will be available to support the recovery of raw materials found in end-of-life tyres.

Find out more about how this might affect you:

Large batteries 

We consulted on proposed regulations to support product stewardship schemes for large batteries, along with tyres, in late 2021.

Application for accreditation for large batteries is anticipated in 2024 and the earliest regulations might be in effect, subject to Cabinet decision, is 2025.

See the Battery Industry Group website for more information on the co-design process.

Why we need priority product stewardship of large batteries

  • Transitioning to a low-carbon economy requires major increases in renewable energy and electric vehicles and both require large batteries.
  • In 2020, an estimated 1,000 electric vehicle batteries reached the end of their useful lives.
  • It is estimated that by 2030 that number could reach 84,000 each year.
  • Mismanaged large batteries also pose risk of fire and if they end up in the landfill or the environment toxins such as heavy metals are released.

Refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases

Scheme co-design is completed and we consulted on proposed regulations to support the scheme in late 2022. A decision on scheme accreditation is anticipated in 2024 and the earliest that regulation may be in effect, subject to Cabinet decision, is in 2024/25. 

See the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship website for further information.

Farm plastics and agrichemicals and their containers 

The Agrecovery Foundation is leading the co-design process for farm plastics and agrichemicals (farm waste). Subject to Cabinet approval, we plan to consult on regulations to support farm wastes in the first half of 2024.

Electrical and electronic products (e-waste)

TechCollect NZ has led the co-design process for an e-waste product stewardship scheme. 

In June 2023, TechCollect NZ published recommendations for Aotearoa New Zealand’s e-product stewardship scheme.

See TechCollect NZ for further information.

Subject to Cabinet approval, we plan to consult on regulations to support e-waste product stewardship in 2025.

Plastic packaging

The Packaging Forum and New Zealand Food and Grocery Council are leading the two-year co-design process on plastic packaging. Timings for accreditation and consultation on regulations to support the scheme will depend on the outcomes of the co-design process.

What other tools are available

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 there are a range of regulatory powers that may be placed on products, depending on whether they have been declared priority products (section 23).

These include the following:

  • Control or prohibition of disposal.
  • Control or prohibition of manufacture or sale of products that contain specified materials (used for plastic microbeads in 2017 and for single-use plastic shopping bags in 2018).
  • Required take-back services for products.
  • Fees payable for the management of a product, who must pay, when and how the fees will be used to this end.
  • Required deposit on the sale of a product, and requirements for its refund and use.
  • Requirements for labelling of a product.
  • Standards to be met when reusing, recycling, or recovering a product or material, and who is required to enforce them.
  • Required collection of information and reporting for certain regulations (1-5 above).