National Litter Audit 2022

The 2022 National Litter Audit follows on from a baseline audit carried out by Keep New Zealand Beautiful in 2019 and compares data and insights between the two data sets.

The 2022 National Litter Audit found that, overall, the litter problem in Aotearoa is growing worse, with the total number of items, weight and estimated volume of litter at a national level all increasing per 1,000 m² since the audit in 2019.

Developed in consultation with Stats NZ, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment, and with financial support from the Waste Minimisation Fund, the National Litter Audit involved experienced environmental Field Researchers collecting and auditing litter in specific fixed sites, recording the key metrics of the litter collected as well as brand data.

“The 2019 National Litter Audit provided a baseline for litter intelligence in New Zealand, painting a picture of how litter impacts our communities. The 2022 results serve to highlight that the need for educational and behaviour-change programmes, when it comes to litter in New Zealand, is more important and urgent than ever.”

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO – Heather Saunderson.

Key outtakes from the 2022 National Litter Audit:

Even though the 2022 National Litter Audit shows a drop in some material subcategories, across the board the litter problem in New Zealand is worsening, with the total number of individual items, the weight and estimated volume of litter nationally all increasing per 1,000 m², since 2019.


  • Plastic was the most prevalent main material type found nationally with a 72.4% increase since 2019 (50 plastic items vs. 29 items per 1,000 m² in 2019).
  • Cigarette butts remained the most frequently identified material subcategory, despite a drop in the number of butts recorded in 2019 (34 items vs. 39 items per 1,000 m² in 2019).


  • Glass beer bottles, less than 750 ml, all colours, continued to be the leading material subcategory in any single material type (i.e. Glass) for national litter weight (0.09 kg vs. 0.12 kg per 1,000 m² in 2019).
  • However, construction waste (a subcategory across multiple material types), when totaled nationally, was the largest contributor to litter weight overall, contributing 0.11 kg of waste per 1,000 m².


  • There was over a sevenfold increase in the estimated litter volume of the material type Paper/Cardboard nationally in 2022 compared with 2019 (12.19 ltrs vs. 1.66 ltrs per 1,000 m² 2019).
  • Cardboard boxes (a new material subcategory in 2022) contributed most significantly to the increase in estimated Paper/Cardboard litter volumes nationally (9.32 ltrs per 1,000 m²).
  • A large increase in estimated volume nationally was also seen with illegal dumping (4.45 ltrs  vs. 1.31 ltrs per 1,000 m² in 2019).

Branded litter

  • Snack Wrappers and Packets overtook Alcoholic Beverage Containers and Packaging as the top industry category of branded litter in 2022, with a leading fast-food brand accounting for 5.03% of all branded litter items recorded.


  • Nationally, most litter in 2022 was found at Retail Sites, overtaking Industrial Sites which had the highest levels of litter in 2019.

Download and read the full report below.


National Litter Audit 2022 81 MB 442 downloads

    You can request the data from the National Litter Audit 2022 here.