Government waste work programme approved

Cabinet has approved a Ministry for the Environment work programme to deal with big waste problems, including end of life tyres.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has announced a programme of work to take action on New Zealand’s long-neglected waste problems.

“Since taking on the waste portfolio I have heard loud and clear from New Zealanders that they find our country’s record on waste unacceptable and want action after nine years of neglect under National,” Eugenie Sage said.

“This Government has listened to New Zealanders, and we started by consulting on our plan to phase out single use plastic bags. Now we need to tackle the tough problems that need leadership to fix.”

Today at the Green Party’s 2018 Annual Conference in Palmerston North, Eugenie Sage announced a work programme approved by Cabinet to tackle waste by looking at options to better manage waste going into landfills, to improve gathering of data on waste and to expand product stewardship schemes.

“Our Waste Minimisation Act is a great Act, which began as a member’s bill by Green MP Nandor Tanzcos and was picked up by the Clark Labour Government and passed in 2008, but its tools have not been used to the full,” Eugenie Sage said.

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“Ten years on from 2008, the Green’s confidence and supply agreement commits this Government to minimising waste to landfill with significant reductions in all waste classes.

“Little action over the past decade has seen the volumes of waste going to landfill increase and New Zealand left woefully unprepared for the impact of international events like China’s decision to close its borders to the world’s low-quality recyclables. Today I am announcing that Cabinet has approved my work programme to deal with some of the big problems in waste.”

Eugenie Sage said the Ministry for the Environment would lead work on:

  • Landfill waste management, which would include options to expand the waste disposal levy to apply to more than 400 landfills not currently subject to the levy as a tool to encourage more recovery and diversion of materials from landfill. There will be public consultation on the expansion of the levy.
  • Improving New Zealand’s waste data by requiring all landfill operators to report on the composition and quantity of waste and obtaining data from councils and the private sector on how much waste is reduced, reused and recycled.
  • Analysing where investment is most needed to help businesses minimise waste, increase local processing capacity for recyclables and provide local jobs. Technical experts will also identify priority sectors where waste can be significantly reduced and where changes in the supply chain can help.
  • Whether to implement a greater mix of voluntary and mandatory product stewardship schemes for products like vehicle tyres, e-waste (starting with lithium batteries), agrichemicals and refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases to ensure we better manage their disposal.

“This work will generate a world leading step change in how we manage waste in New Zealand. This leadership will accelerate the long overdue shift to a circular approach to the economy and help to create a sustainable, productive and inclusive economy.”

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