Waste and resources

Waste free future banner

New Zealanders are rightly concerned about the waste we’re producing as a country, and it’s one of the big areas of focus for the Ministry for the Environment. Waste is polluting our land, our lakes and rivers, and our coasts and oceans, and it contributes 5 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Tackling waste is a growing challenge here in New Zealand and around the world, with major implications for our environment, economy and how we live our lives. We can solve our waste problem by becoming more efficient with the resources we use.

Why we need to transition to a circular economy approach

The essential concept at the heart of a circular economy ōhanga āmiomio is to ensure we can unmake everything we make.

A circular economy is based on three principles.

  • Design out waste and pollution.
  • Keep products and materials in use.
  • Regenerate natural systems.

When a product is designed for the longest use possible and can be easily repaired, remanufactured or recycled (or used, composted and nutrients returned) we consider it to have a circular life cycle...Read more

Design out waste & pollution. Keep products & materials in use. Regenerate natural systems. Image from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Why reducing, reusing and recycling matter

When we throw things away we are not only polluting our planet, we are wasting valuable resources that could be recovered and reused.  

Fortunately, New Zealanders care about reducing the amount of rubbish that we produce and its impacts on our environment and way of life.

What the Government is doing

Transitioning to a circular economy ōhanga āmiomio will require major change across all of our industries. It will take time.

In the meantime we are taking steps that will help us get there.

Photo: Para Kore Marae Inc. which received funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund to roll out its waste minimisation programme to marae around the country.

We all have a role to play

We need to reduce the amount of resources we throw away.

We can do this by making informed purchasing decisions to reduce the waste we create, keeping products and their components in use as long as possible and recycling where we can.

Find out what is happening around the country and steps you can take everyday to help.

Kōrerohia te pēke hoko kirihou whakamahinga kotahi

Plastic pollution is harming our environment and biodiversity. Scientists estimate that there is over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans today.

If nothing changes, plastic in our oceans could weigh more than the fish that live in them by 2050.

We recently held a consultation on the proposed mandatory phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand. Submissions closed on 14 September 2018.