Rubbish and recycling

Reducing your business waste

A large proportion of the waste disposed of in landfill is generated by the commercial sector.

Adopting cleaner production principles enables businesses to be resource efficient and minimise waste. This helps your business’ bottom line and the environment too. 

Taking action to minimise waste will also help ensure you’re doing what consumers want.

According to a 2010 Colmar Brunton Better Business, Better World study, 88 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed want to buy from environmentally and socially responsible businesses. Almost half the people surveyed planned to increase spending on ethically, socially and environmentally friendly products and services in the next year.

More businesses and councils around New Zealand are also increasingly choosing to buy from businesses that have environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

Get started reducing your business waste

A waste audit is the best way to measure how much waste your company generates; what it’s composed of; and how much could be reduced, reused or diverted by recycling.

You can do a visual audit or a ‘sort and weigh’ audit. The general steps involved in conducting a waste audit include:

  • identifying all on-site waste disposal points
  • identifying who collects the waste and when
  • deciding how you are going to assess the waste stream
  • choosing a typical waste generation period (i.e. a day or a week)
  • identifying the quantity of each type of waste and its source.

Here is a tip: don't tell staff that a waste audit is to being done. If they know, they might alter their usual waste disposal practices.

The following document, put together by the former Auckland Regional Council, should assist you to identify where low-cost improvements can be made to reduce waste, water and energy:

Cleaner production toolkit (PDF 396KB)

This following document provides a guide on waste audits:

Waste audit guide (PDF 71KB)


Additional resources

The RENEW Waste Exchange is a free online service designed to help business and industry to find markets for industrial by-products, surplus materials and waste. Members can source cheap or free materials; reduce disposal and purchase costs; and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. 

In addition, Donate NZ provides a web portal where individuals, organisations and companies can donate new, surplus or used items.

The Recycler Directory is an online searchable directory of recyclers. This tool can be used find companies that recycle materials in the Auckland region.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is a forum for businesses that are interested in sustainable development practice, events and networking. They supply an online tool and annual national awards for corporate sustainability achievements.

The Sustainable Business Council provides business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development.

Building industry

Resource Efficiency in Building and Related Industries (REBRI) is an initiative aimed at improving resource efficiency in the building industry, including by providing resources to:

  • reduce waste disposal costs
  • save money on raw materials
  • use materials more effectively
  • reduce the environmental impact from landfill disposal.

Tourism industry

Qualmark’s Responsible Tourism Programme and the associated Enviro awards focus on the environmental and social commitments of accommodation providers, visitor activities, transport and services.

Hospitality industry

Conscious Consumers is an award-winning, Auckland Council-supported initiative that rewards cafes using environmentally and socially responsible business practices including recycling, composting and allowing customers to BYO cups.

Cafes and relevant suppliers can join up on the Conscious Consumers website.

Consumers can find cafés online or by looking out for the Scout-inspired badges in participating cafés’ windows.

Consumers can also sign up to join the Conscious Consumers movement.

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