The Government have announced steps to try and improve the country's recycling system.
Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the Government aimed to improve the country's kerbside and commercial recycling, reduce contamination of recyclables "so more materials can be recovered, and increase onshore processing of plastics and other materials".
Ms Sage went on to say: "New Zealanders care deeply about reducing waste".
"As a country we have been sending our waste issues offshore. China's National Sword initiative [the ban on accepting most types of plastic for recycling] has been a wake-up call that we need to deal with waste here in New Zealand."
After China stopped taking most types of plastic at the beginning of last year, the Government developed a taskforce to respond to the ban.
"The taskforce looked at how our resource recovery system is functioning, how we can support more onshore processing of recyclables, and help New Zealand shift to a circular economy approach where products are better designed so that more materials can be recovered and re-used."
The Ministry for the Environment will incorporate the taskforce's recommendations into its work programme.
Recommendations include running an education campaign for the public to "recycle right"; assess options for moving away from low value and difficult to recycle plastic, which could see regulations around plastic packaging and shifting more responsibility onto producers of plastic packaging.
Ms Sage said the public want consistency with household kerbside recycling, and want to see better recycling by business.
"Recycling needs to be clean and the right materials put out for collection if the recycling industry is to be able to reprocess and find markets for these materials.
When asked if work was moving fast enough to tackle New Zealand's recycling issues, Ms Sage said it was "easy to do smaller ad-hoc things, but ensuring we’ve got coherent leadership and everybody knows where we’re going is harder".
"There are challenges for all of us, central government, for councils, for businesses and for consumers. Consumers can help by ensuring what they put out in their recycling crate and bin is clean, and it’s not mixed with rubbish, and by thinking about what they buy."
Local Government Metropolitan chair and Tauranga City Mayor Greg Brownless said councils were "very keen" to work with Government in creating nationwide recycling guidelines through model contracts.
"It seems silly to have different standards around the country… I think it's very important to have some national stands. I think that's a really good lead."
Ms Sage said: "Developing model contracts for use by councils, kerbside recycling operators will improve the quality and volume of materials collected for reprocessing."
National’s environmental spokesperson Scott Simpson said the recommendations were a "set of soft options that won’t address the issue at hand" and that it "lacks any immediate solutions to the piles of plastic waste being stockpiled or sent to landfill in New Zealand".
He said he was disappointed a container deposit scheme was not considered, which sees a small fee added to a product like a bottle of cola, with the fee given back to the purchaser after the bottle is collected for recycling.
"Instead the Minister has opted for a light range of options that equates to more reviews and studies rather than effective change."
Taskforce recommendations, now be part of the Ministry for the Environment’s work programme are:
1. Identifying the gaps in materials recovery and waste infrastructure.
2. Review kerbside collection and processing systems.
3. Study how to increase paper and cardboard processing and plastic reprocessing capacity
4. Examine how product stewardship for packaging can be used.
5. Assess the options for shifting away from low value and difficult to recycle plastics.
6. Run an education campaign to help New Zealanders "recycle right".
7. Develop model contracts for the sector to reduce contamination, increase transparency and to better accommodate fluctuations in market prices.
8. Develop a plan and guidelines to encourage purchase of products made of recovered and recycled materials.