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This Government is committed to sustainable development for New Zealand. Our desire is to grow our economy while maintaining a healthy environment.

Waste is a key environmental issue for New Zealand; if we are to live in a sustainable society, we have to get better at reducing the amount of waste we produce, as well as reusing and recycling more of it.

That is why the Government produced the 2002 New Zealand Waste Strategy. It sets out a long term vision for reducing waste, using resources efficiently, recovering resources from the waste stream, and the better management of residual waste. This discussion document deals with product stewardship, which is one of the policies mentioned in the strategy.

Product stewardship involves producers, brand owners, importers and consumers accepting responsibility to help manage the environmental effects of the products through their life cycle. It is a tool with the potential to greatly improve how we deal with waste in New Zealand.

Several useful industry-led product stewardship schemes already exist in New Zealand. I am pleased the Ministry for the Environment has been able to contribute positively to the establishment and administration of two newer industry-led schemes: the 2004 Packaging Accord aimed at reducing packaging waste; and Tyre Track, which is directed at the better management of old tyres.

But there is greater potential for product stewardship to contribute to reductions in waste, and to fill a gap in our current set of tools for addressing waste. I therefore believe the time has come to put product stewardship policy in New Zealand on a more formal footing.

This document discusses the issues involved with product stewardship and some of the options we could consider. While it sets out a preferred option, the final shape of a product stewardship policy and its adoption by government will be determined after consultation.

The discussion paper also addresses water efficiency labelling for whiteware, toilets and taps.

I invite all interested parties to comment on the proposals in this document and to help the development of a product stewardship and water efficiency labelling policy for New Zealand.

Hon Marian L. Hobbs

Minister for the Environment