Covid-19 impacts overseas fibre recycling market

Kerbside recycling services are not affected and continue as normal

All mixed paper and cardboard recycling collected in Auckland will temporarily be sent to landfill because global Covid-19 restrictions have closed Auckland’s overseas market for processing them.

There is currently no capacity in New Zealand to process Auckland’s volumes of paper and cardboard recyclables. Despite the change, Auckland’s kerbside recycling collection services will continue as normal as part of the essential services still being delivered by the council while the Alert Level 4 restrictions are in place.

Aucklanders should continue to put their recycling bins out on the kerbside by 7am on their usual collection day. Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee says, “My key message to Aucklanders is, still keep putting your paper and cardboard in your recycling bin as usual while we change how we deal with it in the backend.

“Auckland Council sends fibre, such as paper and cardboard overseas to be recycled, but with countries around the world shutting their borders, that is not an option. While it isn’t ideal, we have no choice but to landfill these items at this time.

“Our focus will be to make sure Aucklanders can still recycle with as little disruption as possible. “This situation also highlights why we need to have the ability to deal with our recycling in New Zealand rather than relying on other countries.

Pre Covid-19, Auckland Council was already in discussions on this with Central Government, and we will continue to advocate for better recycling in New Zealand and product stewardship to reduce single use packaging.”

Parul Sood, General Manager for Waste Solutions says, “Like many industries, international commodity markets for all recyclables face an uncertain future as the global impact of Covid-19 is felt. The council is continuing to work closely with our supplier that sorts, processes, and finds markets for Aucklanders’ recyclables to maintain supply chains and ensure that recyclable materials are turned into new products, both within New Zealand and offshore.”

He added “Auckland has the most extensive recycling collection system in the country, and aluminum, steel, glass and plastic are all still being recycled at this time.”