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Packaging Council: Green’s Waste Bill

14th June 2006

Why The Green's Waste Minimisation Bill Was Right For The 1970's But Is Wrong For The 21st Century

The Packaging Council of New Zealand is concerned that the Green Party's Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill, which passed its first reading in Parliament today, will introduce further punitive legislation on New Zealand's manufacturers.

Legislation that will increase the cost of recycling, make recycling less efficient and will not achieve its overall objective of reducing the amount of waste which goes to landfill. At worst, it will lead to an increase in the cost of goods, less investment in New Zealand and movement of production off-shore.

The Bill would:
- Create a new Crown entity called the Waste Minimisation Authority;
- Require brand-owners to notify their products with this Authority before placing them on the market;
- Ban the disposal of any waste deemed recyclable, re-usable or compostable;
- Introduce a levy (tax) on waste sent to disposal - equating to a tax bill of some $160 million per annum;
- Introduce waste deposit fees on consumer products;
- Require brand-owners to operate a collection facility at every retail outlet for their products;
- Require A3 signs to be placed next to each product confirming the location to which the product could be returned after use and each brand-owner to place an advert in every local newspaper for one year providing the same information; and
- Require all organizations to have waste reductions plans, irrespective of their size.

Paul Curtis, Executive Director of the Packaging Council, says New Zealanders need to be aware of the costs involved in the Bill's proposals and the un-workability of the proposed brand-owner operated collection system.

"We already have the Packaging Accord in place which has been recognized by both Central and Local Government as working successfully. This is a voluntary product stewardship initiative to reduce the proportion of packaging in the total waste stream and recovery trends improved in the first year of the Accord from 51% to 53%.

"The vast proportion of household recyclable packaging waste is collected at kerbside from homes around the country. If we were to introduce the brand-owner operated collection system proposed in the Green's Bill at every dairy and supermarket this would act as a rival collection system and would reduce the efficiency of what we already have in place.

"Deposit legislation for beverage containers was introduced in some parts of the world as an anti-litter measure in the 1970's, over a decade before widespread household recycling collections. To introduce them now, when we have put so much emphasis into developing kerbside collections for recyclable packaging waste, makes no sense."

In Australia, the Victorian EPA has estimated the cost of introducing container deposit legislation on top of the existing kerbside scheme to be an extra AU$150 per household. Similar research by the Australian Capital Territory Government found it would double or triple the cost of kerbside recycling. The comparative costs of introducing container deposit legislation in New Zealand would be very similar.

The Packaging Council is committed to the success of the Packaging Accord and has encouraged voluntary industry product stewardship initiatives such as the Glass Packaging Forum levy set up to identify alternative commercially viable uses for waste glass packaging. This is consistent with the Ministry for the Environment's own discussion document on product stewardship which prefers a mix of voluntary and regulatory approaches and states that regulation would be considered only where no effective voluntary scheme could be developed.

"Packaging waste is a relatively small part of the waste stream, comprising about 12% of municipal waste and only about 4% of total waste, but we understand and accept our responsibility as producers and are committed to the Packaging Accord.

"We are doing exactly what the Government has asked but if this Bill were enacted it would shift the goalposts whilst the ball is still in play and will add significant costs to our manufacturing industry and to every household.

"In the recent world competitiveness survey, New Zealand fell by a massive six places in one year to number 22 and legislation, such as proposed under this Bill, will continue us on this downward trend," says Paul Curtis.

ENDS


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