NZ Waste and Recycling During Lockdown

We hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during these incredibly trying times. As New Zealand is in the Level 4 Lockdown we’re having to adapt to a new normal for the time being, this includes recycling and waste.

The headlines:

  • Waste collection will continue throughout the lockdown as an essential service
  • Recycling will continue as practicable - check with your local council for information in your area
  • Any potentially contaminated waste should be sealed in a bag before being placed into your general waste bag
  • Don’t generate additional waste throughout the lockdown by clearing out gardens or spring cleaning, this places additional pressure on the people who are still working to keep us safe and healthy

Waste as an essential service

Waste has been defined as an essential service with recycling conducted as practicable. What this means is that your curbside waste will continue to be collected at its regular schedule. While recycling will only be collected when it is deemed safe and the resources are available by your local waste management providers and authorities. For example, Wellington has decided to cease recycling collection for the safety of their teams as it is predominantly sorted by hand increasing the risk of contact with potentially contaminated waste.

This is a great time to consider what kinds of materials you’re bringing into your home and reducing the amount of both waste and recycling you generate. Further, we encourage those in recycling impacted areas to rinse their recycling well and to store it in a dry space away from the wind until collection is an option again.


If you or someone you’re staying with has tested positive for COVID - 19 or is suspected please ensure that any possibly contaminated waste is handled with the utmost care. The official recommendation is as follows:

Waste from these households, such as used tissues and wet wipes, should be placed into a separate bag and either sealed or tied up before putting it into general household waste. Please do not flush wet wipes down the toilet.

Please consider the safety of those in your households and the amazing waste management teams when dealing with any potentially contaminated waste. We’re sincerely thankful for those who are out there and helping our communities to be safe during this time.

Don’t create unnecessary waste

We know that we’re all locked up and this may seem like a good time for a spring clean, but please don’t create unnecessary waste for the waste management teams who are helping us through this time. These services are for essential household waste only, such as food packaging, diapers and sanitary items.

Without these collections, we’d all have to deal with waste accumulating at home and on our streets. Further, with the lockdown, you’re unable to deliver your own waste to your local landfill or recycling collection point, as these are operating for essential services only.

Again, waste management providers will be working with a skeleton staff to maintain the health of their team so any additional waste will be straining these resources and requires the staff to interact with more waste than necessary increasing their risk of exposure. Please avoid:

  • Placing green waste out for collection, ie. tree branches, lawn clippings etc
  • Putting clutter you’ve sorted around your house out on the footpath for waste collection
  • Placing items out for other people to have - we need to eliminate any unnecessary person to object interactions as well as person to person

If you are having a clear-out, please store any waste or donatable items in a space out of the wind and rain until the lockdown is complete. Also, please consider charities that will be in the highest demand after the lockdown for any high-quality items.

For more information check out the Government COVID Response Website here, or the Ministry for Health website here.

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