Economic conditions abroad are hitting the recycling industry.
Recycling companies, which reported healthy demand overseas for kerbside collection materials a few months ago, say demand and prices are now falling.
Companies which were paying $350 for a tonne of heavy steel six weeks ago, are now paying only $60.
Several councils say they may have to scale down recycling operations as demand declines for recycled plastic, glass, tin and paper.
The Scrap Metal Recycling Association says lack of demand and lower prices is making recycling unprofitable.
The situation is a turnaround for an industry which earlier this year described itself as New Zealand's 14th biggest export industry.