Media Release: Government seeks feedback on harmful waste

Environment Minister Amy Adams has released a discussion document on possible options to improve the way some waste products are managed in New Zealand – including agrichemicals.

The Government is considering whether it should intervene to improve the management of four product waste streams, including agrichemicals and farm plastics, electrical and electronic equipment, tyres, and refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases.

Since passing the Waste Minimisation Act (WMA) five years ago, the New Zealand Government has encouraged voluntary product stewardship efforts as a first priority. Over this time, 11 voluntary product stewardship schemes have been accredited by the Government.

Product stewardship is when responsibility for the environmental effects that products can cause in their life cycle is shared among all sectors involved with the product.

Under the 11 voluntary schemes, more than 70,000 tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill for recycling or safe destruction.

“These are good results, but this only equates to 1.4 per cent of the total waste stream going to disposal facilities,” said Ms Adams.

“While the focus in New Zealand has been on voluntary schemes, in my view, the time has come to seriously consider appropriate mandatory approaches for selected priority waste streams.”

The first step in the process is to consult on whether the Government has correctly identified the four waste streams outlined in the discussion document as priorities for action, or whether there are other priorities it should focus on.

Ms Adams added: “I want to make clear that final decisions on regulations or product stewardship scheme design will not be made solely as a result of this consultation.

“The next steps will be to consider in detail a range of options, including those recommended by industry working groups.”

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