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China's ban on foreign waste is a wake-up call for NZ - environmentalists

Environmentalists say China's ban on foreign waste is the wake-up call New Zealand needs to get smart about managing rubbish.

Mountains of paper and plastic are building up in recycle centres around the country after the world's biggest recycle market shut its doors.

Just south of Thames is a sprawling wasteland of 4,000 tonnes of plastic bottles, bags, paper and cardboard that we're now unable to send overseas.

"We're at a crisis point and to be honest we don't know what to do," says Grahame Christian of Smart Environmental.

Last year we exported more than 20,000 tonnes of waste plastic to China but they've since decided they would no longer be the worlds dumping ground.

"I think it's a real strong signal that our recycling system is fundamentally broken." says Paul Evans of Wasteminz.

Associate Environment Minister Eugine Sage says, "we need to have more onshore processing facilities in New Zealand. The waste minimisation fund has enabled some companies but we need more."

Ms Sage says the Government is now urgently speaking with councils and contractors to develop a response to the issue.

Mountains of paper and plastic are building up in recycling centres around the country. Source: 1 NEWS