Approximately 11 million tonnes of waste is still going to landfill in New Zealand each year. Sadly, about three-quarters of this waste could have potentially been recovered, reused or recycled. Not only is this wasting precious resources, but it also causes environmental harm such as leachates and emissions to the atmosphere.

Leachate is the liquid formed when waste breaks down in a landfill and water filters through the waste. This liquid is highly toxic and can pollute the land, groundwater and waterways.

When organic material such as food scraps and green waste goes into to landfill, it is generally compacted down and covered. This removes the oxygen and causes it to break down in an anaerobic process. Eventually, this releases methane and other harmful gases. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Materials can take a very long time to break down in a landfill, such as:
  • Plastic bottles - over 450 years
  • Glass - never
  • Aluminium cans 80-200 years
  • Disposable nappies 250-500 years

Tips to reduce waste:

  • Replace your desk bin for a small desk cube.
  • Use an office paper box at your desk for all your waste paper.
  • Reduce the amount of waste bins available and place them in inconvenient locations.
  • Contact a recycling specialist such as Reclaim.

Going waste free might be easier than you think. Check out just how little waste Lauren Singer produced in 4 years!

Test your knowledge on waste by taking our Waste Free Tuesday Quiz.