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The basis for the Ministry’s waste work is The New Zealand Waste Strategy which we developed in partnership with Local Government New Zealand. Since 2002 it has been guiding our work on reducing waste, recovering resources and better managing residual waste in New Zealand.
The strategy has three goals:
Thirty national targets for dealing with priority waste issues in New Zealand cover waste minimisation, organics, special wastes, construction and demolition wastes, hazardous wastes, organochlorines, trade wastes and waste disposal.
Progress under the strategy targets is now being reviewed and the results will be available in December 2006. Progress made on waste management in New Zealand since 1995 is described in more detail in Waste Management in New Zealand – A Decade of Progress (October 2005).
Construction and demolition (C & D) waste comprises a range of materials from concrete, plasterboard and wood to steel, brick and glass. This sort of waste represents approximately 50 percent of all waste generated in New Zealand, 20 percent of all waste going to landfill and 80 percent of all waste going to clean-fill. Much of this waste can be reduced, reused or recovered.
The New Zealand Waste Strategy has set a target of 50 percent reduction in construction and demolition waste being disposed of to landfills by 2008. Government is working on a number of initiatives to reduce the amount of this waste being produced, for example:
Hazardous waste comes from many sources – industry, small businesses, school laboratories, and households. A waste is considered hazardous if it poses a risk to people or the environment, when it is not properly managed, stored, transported and disposed of.
To address hazardous waste, we are:
The Packaging Council of New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment have brought together brand owners, retailers, importers, manufacturers, recyclers and local government under a New Zealand Packaging Accord.
Signed in 2004, this Accord is already improving the sustainability of packaging in New Zealand. Some key achievements are:
For the next year, the Packaging Accord will focus on improving the quantitative information on packaging through the use of bar codes for tracking and tracing. It will also raise public awareness on the need to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging.
A Member’s Bill from Nandor Tanczos (Green Party) has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee in Parliament. This is known as the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill and it proposes to:
Although the Government considers the Bill in its current form to be detailed and prescriptive, it supported its referral to the Select Committee so that wider consideration could be given to the issues. Public submissions to the Select Committee closed on 1 September 2006. Select Committee hearings are expected to take place in October/November 2006.
Under product stewardship schemes, producers, brand owners, importers, retailers, consumers and other parties accept responsibility for the environmental effects of their products – from production to disposal.
Industry, often together with the Ministry for the Environment and local government, has set up a number of voluntary schemes to reduce the environmental impact of certain products. There are currently schemes in place for products such as packaging, oil, tyres, paint, computers, and cell phones.
Government is committed to industry-led voluntary product stewardship schemes. It also wants to give more strength to voluntary schemes, to allow them to work even more successfully. Industry, the public, councils and environmental organisations have asked for this.
To address this we have been developing a policy framework for product stewardship. In July 2005 we published a discussion document in which Government stated a preference for voluntary schemes with backstop legislation.
The Minister for the Environment has asked us for advice on options for waste levies in New Zealand. These levies would be placed on waste destined for final disposal, and be used to raise funds for waste minimisation initiatives. Options are a national levy or local waste levies.
We are looking at how a waste levy might work and how it would complement product stewardship schemes
Government intends to hear stakeholder views on a full range of waste management issues, such as levies and product stewardship, through the Select Committee process on the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill before finalising its preferred policy option.