Application of circular economy principles to New Zealand pastoral farming systems


  • Vicki T. Burggraaf AgResearch
  • Gina M. Lucci AgResearch
  • Stewart F. Ledgard AgResearch
  • Diogenes L. Antille CSIRO
  • Val O. Snow AgResearch
  • Cecile A. M. de Klein AgResearch



material flow, plastic, recycling, resource use efficiency, waste management


Global food production is under pressure to produce more from limited resources, with further expectations to reduce waste and pollution and improve social outcomes. Circular economy principles aim to design out waste and pollution, minimise the use of nonrenewable external inputs and increase the lifespan of products and  materials. Waste sources on New Zealand farms and options to reduce waste and improve circularity were reviewed. Waste reduction should begin with systems design, while recycling should be at the bottom of the hierarchy. On-farm resource use efficiency has been widely studied, but there are also opportunities to  repurpose waste and integrate systems. The use of organic waste products as fertiliser and supplementary feed occurs to some extent, as does use of excess dairy calves in the beef industry, but they present both  opportunities and challenges. More farm waste recycling opportunities are becoming available, with new products available from waste processing, such as plastic fence posts. Circular strategies in New Zealand agriculture require more analysis to determine economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes.


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