Government orders councils to bring in kerbside food scraps recycling - here's when it will be in force

The Government has revealed when standardised recycling system across the country will come into effect.

Minister for the Environment David Parker said the system will see "far-reaching" changes to the way Kiwis make, use, recycle and dispose of waste.

The changes aim to ensure recycled waste is less likely to be contaminated by material that cannot be recycled.

The new initiatives include improved and standardised household kerbside recycling and organic collections (including food scraps), making it easier for people to recycle and avoid sending as much to landfills.

Another initiative is a new waste strategy to set New Zealand's direction for the next three decades, which includes new and more comprehensive waste legislation.

"New Zealand is one of the highest generators of waste per person in the world, every year producing about 750kg per person. At home, we only recycle and compost about one-third of household waste," Parker said.

The plan will be introduced in phases, with the first step occurring in February 2024.

From then, all city councils and districts must accept glass bottles and jars, paper and cardboard (including pizza boxes), plastic bottles and containers marked with recycling symbols 1, 2, and 5, and aluminium and steel tins and cans in recycling collections.

The next phase will see all households in urban areas with a recycling service by 2027 and a household food scrap collection by 2030.

"A standardised service will make it clear what can or can't be recycled from home, so New Zealanders can be confident they are doing the right thing," Parker said.

"The way we create and manage waste is way behind many other developed countries, but with these improvements, we're putting the right foundations in place to bring our waste and recycling systems up to global standards."

One of the initiatives will see the introduction of kerbside food scrap collections to ensure they're disposed of responsibly.

The plan said food scraps currently make up more than a third of a typical household's rubbish each week.

It added more than 300,000 tonnes of food scraps are sent to New Zealand landfills from houses and businesses every year, rotting and producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

"The measures we're announcing today will support the social and economic changes we need to address our waste problem," Parker said.

The plan has been welcomed by the Greens, with the Party saying they're pleased the Government has pushed towards standardised kurbside recycling around the country.

"This will make it much easier for households to recycle correctly, and will also allow more products and materials to be recovered and reprocessed for reuse," Green Party environment and waste spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

Sage called for Kiwis to reduce their plastic pollution "urgently" and avoid waste going to landfill.

"Promoting kerbside collection of food scraps and supporting composting initiatives is crucial to help households do more to avoid waste to landfill," Sage said.

"Food scraps make up around a third of household rubbish each week and decomposing organic material in landfills leads to methane emissions."