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Recycling 101: 2024 Recycling Standardisation in New Zealand

Recycling 101: New Recycling Standardisation in New Zealand

In February, council recycling collections across Aotearoa, New Zealand, will be standardised, a huge win for the waste infrastructure, recycling outcomes, and waste educators.

In addition, the new policy requires all urban areas in New Zealand (over 1000 people) to have recycling collections by 2027, and by 2030, food scrap collections will be active across the country.

For most, this will only bring minor sorting and preparation changes. The most wide spread change will be the collection of #5 plastics consistently across the country which used to vary by region.

What are the biggest changes:

  1. Put plastics 1, 2 and 5 in kerbside recycling
  2. Remove lids from all recycling
  3. Liquid Paperboard Beverage containers like Tetra Paks are not accepted in kerbside recycling

Other important things to note:

  1. Lids can’t be put into your recycling bin unless they are bigger than a credit card. They are too small for processing - you can often drop them off at a local collection point.
  2. Tetra Pak and saveBOARD have collection points around the country to collect beverage containers for onshore recycling, or you can post them; learn more here.
  3. The policy only covers kerbside/council recycling; private waste companies may continue to collect other materials for private clients, e.g. collecting oat milk containers in an office tower and sending them for private recycling. We hope this will be well sign posted at the collection point to avoid confusion.

These seemingly small changes will significantly impact our waste outcomes - even if you put less in your recycling bin.

Kurbside recycling The Ministry for the Environment - Kerbside Recycling Collection 2024

Why is the Standardisation Important?

  1. Simplification
    Most people want to recycle correctly, but recycling is confusing; most recycling information is learned through the people in our lives, and it's easy for misunderstandings to spread. A country-wide simplification reduces the opportunity for confusion across councils and makes things simpler when people travel.

  2. Supporting education
    Further, the simplification makes it easier to educate people on recycling without amendments or having a footnote about checking local regulations.
  3. Accurate on-package instructions
    Whether on-package instructions are done privately through the manufacturer or through a formal program like the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), the standardisation of collections makes it easier for labels to be applied with confidence.

    The Australasian Recycling Label is a formal labelling program that started in Australia and has grown in New Zealand. ARL on-packaging recycling instructions are now on 330,000 SKUs across ANZ. We hope to see more organisations adopting the ARL as a standardised communication tool.

  4. Driving manufacturer material selection
    Public awareness and consumer behaviour are changing. A greater awareness of materials that can be recycled through standardisation and on-package recycling instructions provides consumers with better information to make purchasing decisions, putting more pressure on manufacturers to be more considerate in the design of their packaging.

    This trend has already seen major manufacturers invest in more considerate materials and making on package recycling instructions more prominent. For example, Colgate toothpastes now use considerable product space to communicate their new, recyclable tubes.

Want to learn more about the upcoming changes?

More about the upcoming changes and waste diversion goals on The Ministry for the Environment here.

A concise and comprehensive document on the ‘standard materials for kerbside’ for territorial authorities from The Ministry for the Environment can be read here.

Learn more about the Australasian Recycling Label here.

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