New Zealand is the most wasteful country in the developed world but investment in organic waste facilities could reduce that by almost a third.
Research published on Waste Management World has found New Zealand produces 3.68kg of waste per capita per day, the worst in the developed world and the 10th worst of countries worldwide surveyed.
The problem is only worsened with China announcing last year it would be restricting imports of plastic, which would directly impact the more than 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste New Zealand exports every year.
Zero Waste New Zealand co-director Jo Knight said the company had warned for years of China's intention to stop imports of plastics, with plastic and foil composites (such as cat food sachets) going to be extremely hard to get rid of.
However, Ms Knight said one of the biggest concerns was the 28 per cent of organic waste that ends up in our landfills.
She said New Zealand had "idiotic systems" for waste management, with most organic waste mixed in with plastics or put down incinerators.
"We should be investing in bio-gas plants so that organic waste can be turned into bio-fuels like in Europe."
Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett said the answer to the capital's organic waste problem was city-wide compost collection but a plant would be a huge investment requiring funding from central government.
"Part of the problem I think is people want to do the right thing but there isn't a place we can put organic waste," she said. Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has called for a review into the Waste Minimisation Act.
The review would focus on creating more onshore processing facilities, limiting the use of combined plastics which are difficult to process or recycle, and increasing waste levies, Ms Sage told RNZ.