Govt's new programme to tackle NZ's waste problem

By Jessica Tyson

Government has announced a new programme to take action on New Zealand's waste problem.

At the Green Party's 2018 Annual Conference in Palmerston North, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced the programme will look at options to better manage waste going into landfills.

It'll also look at ways to improve the gathering of data on waste and options to expand product stewardship schemes on products like tyres and batteries.

It comes after the government's recent announcement of their plans to phase out single-use plastic bags.

"This government has listened to New Zealanders and 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,” says the minister.

"Little action over the past decade has seen volumes of waste going to landfill increase and New Zealand has been left woefully unprepared for the impact of international events, like China's decision to close its borders to the world's low-quality recyclables.”

The programme will lead work on:

  • Landfill waste management, which would include options to expand the waste disposal levy to apply to more than 400 new landfills as a tool to encourage more material recovery and diversion of material from landfills.  There will be public consultation on the levy review.
  • Improving New Zealand's waste data by requiring landfill operators to report on the composition and quantity of waste, and obtaining data from councils and the private sector on how much 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 are also identifying 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 such as lithium batteries, agrichemicals, and synthetic greenhouse gases to ensure we better manage their disposal.