How Is NZ Faring After China’s Ban On Imported Waste?

Stack of oil barrels

Most non-biodegradable recycling centres in New Zealand currently struggle to dispose of mounting piles of garbage, due to China’s ban on importing waste from other countries.

Other types of waste such as used petroleum require a different means of disposal. It simply can’t be dumped in a landfill. Instead, a professional should handle the process of recycling waste oil. Containers specially made for petroleum waste are normally used in this case.

Environmental Concern

Despite some recycling centres now shipping their waste materials to Malaysia, the significant impact of China’s decision has manifested through growing stockpiles at landfills. For instance, the Metro Waste station in Waikato stores around 400 tonnes of plastic waste at peak times, according to Karl Pavlovich, District Council Acting Waters Manager.

Pavlovich noted that the situation has become better, but the same can’t be said for other recycling facilities. In Thames, Smart Enviro’s station handles five times more the stored waste in Waikato. Grahame Christian, Smart Enviro’s managing director, said that the increasing waste build-up only indicates a national waste problem.

National Waste Crisis

Xtreme Zero Waste Manager Rick Thorpe believes that the country should consider other sustainable ways to recycle waste, instead of looking for alternative destinations for exporting them. Thorpe even added that China’s ban serves as a blessing in disguise, since it allows New Zealand to take a closer look at the life-cycle of plastic waste.

The government has already embarked on promoting new ways for waste disposal. Businesses that seek eco-friendly solutions for recyclables receive funding incentives for such projects, according to Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. However, it would take long for this practice to become common since there is volatile demand for using recycled commodities.


Public- and private-sector groups should look beyond sending recyclable waste to overseas destinations. Not all types of waste can be shipped abroad, so there is a need to consider other ways to dispose of them.