Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Strategy

Enabling a low emissions circular economy with a sustainable bioeconomy for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Developing a strategy

New Zealand’s Emissions Reduction Plan includes an action to develop a Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Strategy.

This recognises that circular approaches have a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Circular approaches reduce greenhouse gas emissions by radically increasing the efficiency of resources used within the economy. This is achieved by designing out waste and pollution, keeping resources in use for as long as possible, then recovering and repurposing products and materials at the end of their lifecycle. Studies indicate countries can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 39% by adopting ambitious circular approaches.

Circular approaches can provide new business and job opportunities, and will help maintain New Zealand’s economic competitiveness as global markets demand stronger environmental credentials across value chains.

The Strategy will also provide direction to ensure there are sufficient biological resources to support New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions future. There will be significant increased demand for biomass to replace fossils fuels in energy, construction, and other materials. It is important that finite biological resources are used sustainably and for their greatest value, to avoid risks to exports, local economics and the resilience of ecosystems.

The Strategy will lay out how Aotearoa New Zealand can best shift to a more circular economy. It will help identify resource-efficient and innovative uses of bioresources that can reduce emissions and provide broader benefits.

Work plan and reports

Our 2023 focus is on research and data collection to identify how Aotearoa New Zealand can best move to a more circular economy, and a sustainable bioeconomy.

In 2024 we will engage and consult on a draft strategy. The strategy will be completed in 2025.

Examples of our research projects are listed below, and reports will be published on this page when they are available.

Emerging and future platforms in New Zealand’s bioeconomy

A set of reports on opportunities for New Zealand’s bioeconomy to be ‘part of the solution’, contributing to high value, sustainable and low emission use of bioresources. These reports are designed for use by government, investors, and business and have a focus on near term investment-ready opportunities and what is required for New Zealand to be internationally competitive.

See also:
Food and Beverage Information Project

Impacts, Barriers and Enablers for a Circular Economy

A set of research projects covering:

  • Impacts of circular approaches on emissions, jobs, and other factors 
  • Barriers, enablers, and approaches for a more circular economy 
  • International developments toward more circular economies and the implications for New Zealand
  • Enabling digital technologies for New Zealand’s circular and bioeconomy, including the role of digital twins.

This research is being led by a consortia of organisations: Sustainable Business Network, Aurecon, thinkstep-anz, Rākau Tautoko, The Connective, Project Moonshot, and Arup.
Across all the projects, the research is using systems approaches, integrating Mātauranga Māori, to identify best impact approaches for Aotearoa New Zealand to shift to a more circular low emissions economy. The research will run from August 2023 to March 2024.

Bioeconomy Framework

This research will develop a bioeconomy policy framework and supporting situational analysis. The outputs will help guide the optimal use of New Zealand’s renewable biological resources.

Māori circular business activity

Research to identify how the concept of Māori sustainable business practice might inform concepts of circular business practice, what impacts market requirements on sustainability are having on Māori business and the enablers to meet those requirements.

Public Sector Stocktake

This stocktake lists New Zealand central and local government initiatives relevant to circular economy and bioeconomy as of July 2023. It is high level only and not comprehensive of all initiatives. The stocktake was developed to support MBIE's understanding of the range of initiatives currently in place to enable a shift to a more circular economy and bioeconomy.

Stocktake of Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Policies and Programmes [XLSX, 46 KB]

Related work across government

Our work has arisen from government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan, in response to advice from He Pou a Rangi Climate Change Commission. We are working closely with several other areas of work across government, for example:

  • Ministry for the Environment and its work on reducing waste, guided by Te rautaki para Waste strategy 2023.
  • Ministry of Primary Industries, including Te Uru Rakau New Zealand Forest Service.
  • MBIE’s Industry Policy, including Advanced Manufacturing Industry Transformation Plan and its priority action of ‘Creating a Leading Sustainable Circular Net-Zero Emissions Sector.’
  • Other MBIE teams, for example

Building for Climate Change(external link)—
Energy Strategy
Equitable Transitions Strategy

More information

Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction plan(external link)—

Circular economy and bioeconomy chapter in the ERP(external link)  —

Te Rautaki Para Waste Strategy(external link) —

Contact us 

This work is being led by MBIE's Economic Strategy Branch.

To get in touch with MBIE’s Circular Economy and Bioeconomy team:

Send an email to