New Zealand has one of the lowest recycling rates in the world, according to a report published this week.

The OECD’s recycling rate for paper products, excluding paper towels and paper clips, was only 5.4% of the country’s total, according the report.

That was also the lowest in the OECD, the European Union and the United States.

The report was commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is one of New Zealand’s leading conservation organisations.

The organisation said New Zealand had the lowest paper recycling rate in the entire OECD, and was one of only six countries with a recycling rate lower than 1%.

“Our paper recycling rates have declined by 30% since the mid-2000s,” said Ben Osterman, the group’s executive director, at the report’s launch.

“We’ve seen the biggest fall in the number of tonnes of paper discarded per year since the late 1970s, and that’s because the world is turning to renewable energy, and we’re seeing a huge amount of recycled material being recycled, and the price of paper has dropped considerably.”

Auckland-based recycling company Ostermann says it’s also seeing an increase in recycling from other countries.

“For us, the biggest opportunity is in countries where recycling is still low,” Ostermans managing director Paul Ladd said.

“So, in the US and Europe, where you have a lot of people moving around, we’ve got lots of recycled paper going in.

And it’s cheaper to recycle than to re-use.”

The company is currently testing the recycling process on paper towels, which are already recyclable, and it has plans to start testing paper clips and paper towels on other items.

“In New Zealand, we recycle more than 99% of our paper, but our paper is only about 5% recycled, so if we recycle 100% of paper we’d have the same recycling rate,” Ladd explained.

“What we need to do is look at how we recycle our paper and see if we can reduce our paper waste, and reduce the cost of recycling paper.”

Ladd said recycling could be a way to improve the paper industry, and encourage consumers to recycle.

“If we can have a cleaner paper, and people want to buy paper, we need more paper,” he said.

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