The coronavirus has claimed another victim - Auckland's mountain of paper waste.

Auckland Council today announced all of the city's mixed paper and cardboard waste from households will be temporarily dumped at landfills after the virus shut down international markets for processing paper recyclables.

Aucklanders will still be able to put out paper and cardboard in recycling bins, which will be separated from other products at Visy's sorting facility in Onehunga before being dumped at landfills.

Council waste solutions general manager Parul Sood said the message to Aucklanders is not to change your behaviour.


"People should continue to put out their recyclables in the recycling bin and rubbish in the rubbish bin by 7am on their usual collection day," she said.

Sood said the city's kerbside waste collections are continuing as normal as part of the essential services being delivered by council during the lockdown.

Each month, about 4500 tonnes of waste paper is dumped by Auckland households where it goes to Visy's plant at Onehunga for processing.

Following a ban by China on waste recyclables, causing a collapse in prices, the council managed to secure new markets, including China which took a lot of the city's paper waste.

The Visy recycling plant at Onehunga. Source / Auckland Council
The Visy recycling plant at Onehunga. Source / Auckland Council

In late 2018, the council increased the contracted fee to Australian-based Visy from $2m a year to a reported $9.2m for up to four years after China stopped buying foreign waste.

Visy handles all of Auckland's kerbside recyclables - about 140,000 tonnes a year. Glass and metal products are recycled locally, but paper and plastics are sold offshore.

Sood said plastic 1 products, which include products like single-use beverage bottles and food trays that are light and easy to recycle, are mostly recycled in New Zealand and a bit in Australia. The overseas market for other plastic products is still taking products at this stage, she said.

Environment and climate change committee chairman Richard Hills said the situation highlighted the need for investment in onshore processing for recyclables and the need to reduce single-use packaging in New Zealand.


Last week, the council publicly notified a resource consent application by Waste Management to develop the new landfill on 1020ha of farm and forestry land on the northern fringes of the Super City.

The new landfill will about take half of Auckland's household and commercial waste, at Dome Valley, north of Warkworth. Submissions close on May 26.