Photo courtesy of Lindsay Keats Photography
The Ministry for the Environment presented at the 26th Waste Management Institute of NZ (WasteMINZ) Annual Conference held in the capital this month.
The focus of this year’s conference was on putting the ‘Resource’ into Resourceful Thinking, with emphasis on the goals set down in the New Zealand Waste Strategy to reduce the harmful effects of waste and improve the efficiency of resource use.
Our Secretary for the Environment, Dr Paul Reynolds kicked off proceedings with an overview of the Ministry’s direction. He explained how we’re taking an outcomes-focused approach to all our environmental management systems, including waste.
Dr Reynolds was joined in a discussion panel by Jared Blumenfeld from the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Michael Waas, Vice President of TerraCycle Global, an innovative global manufacturer that uses solely waste as its raw material.
Download Dr Reynolds' keynote speech [PDF, 283 KB].
Our Director Operations, Mike Mendonça says, “The panel set the stage for us to describe how the Ministry is targeting valuable resources where they can make a bigger difference.
“We’ve looked at the tools we have, such as the waste disposal levy, the Waste Minimisation Fund and product stewardship, and now we’re identifying how they can be leveraged more effectively to achieve the outcomes of the Waste Strategy and the Waste Minimisation Act.
“For example, we know strategic funding can target areas to help achieve better environmental outcomes. Recently we used public funding to dispose and recycle tonnes of polychlorinated biphenyls or ‘PCBs’. They are a nasty persistent organic pollutant found in old electrical equipment and light-fittings, but they don’t readily degrade naturally and exposure can affect human body tissue. Using waste funding to deal with PCBs eliminated the potential for harm and also ensured that we meet New Zealand's environmental obligations under the Stockholm Convention.
“Another issue for us and for the waste sector at present is that we estimate only 30 per cent of waste disposed to land goes to levied landfills. We know this from our recent waste levy review. We need to target engagement to a group of disposers not currently captured by the levy, so we can start to tackle these types of issues. Our Operations Directorate is working on ways to better address a more diverse range of stakeholders with whom we have not previously engaged.”