Kiwis need new way to clean up as China closes dumps

China no longer wants to be the world's rubbish dump, announcing it will ban the import of 24 kinds of waste, including some plastics, metals and materials, by the end of the year.

The recycling industry in New Zealand says it should spark a rethink on what we throw out.

"This is not something that's going to happen overnight, it's not the wholesale closure of one market, but certainly it does start to make us think we are very reliant on one market and say, 'How do we stop producing this waste in the first place?'," Waste Management Institute's Paul Evans told Newshub.

Some New Zealand companies send plastics to China to be recycled, but there aren't any figures on how much.

They may now have to find other markets, or find a way to deal with it here - which costs money.

"In New Zealand, there is a challenge around scale in the products we create and also these products require significant investment," Mr Evans said.

Waste management company Environ NZ is planning a plastics recycling plant for Canterbury and it says the Chinese decision could help its business case.

But the Greens say there's a better way.

"What we could be doing is reducing the amount of waste that we make, and that means taking a really hard line about unnecessary packaging," Green MP Denise Roche told Newshub.

But Kiwis aren't getting that message. Instead, it's just the opposite.

We send about 3.7 million tonnes of waste to landfills a year - 16 percent more than three years ago - and less than 6 percent of that was recycled.

Each New Zealander produces 3.2 tonnes of rubbish a year and less than 30 percent is recycled.

With China saying we don't want your trash, Kiwis will have to find a way to clean up their own mess.