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Zero Impact on the Environment

Chemical industries must aim for zero impact on the environment and human health, the Acting Environment Minister Phillida Bunkle told the New Zealand Chemical Industry Council's annual conference in Wellington today.

The Minister applauded the efforts of at least one company which had set itself the objective of conducting business with zero accidents and zero impact on the environment.

"This company unapologetically states that this approach to business, is good business. This zero impact objective in effect sets the goal that all of you need to aim for," she told the conference.

Ms Bunkle said environmental concerns needed to be given the same weight as human health concerns. Sustainable development, a key government plank, was vital to protecting the needs of future generations.

While she recognised the industry's Responsible Care programme, Ms Bunkle said that compliance could only truly be measured by independent scrutiny. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act waived large penalties and imprisonment as deterrents to non-compliance with regulations designed to protect the community. Ms Bunkle said waste management, while better than a decade ago, still needed improvement.

"We must strive to have no more contaminated sites, and no more instances of the chemical effects. There are still too many places in New Zealand that don't have adequate waste disposal, meaning there are still too many places where the environment and human health is affected."

Management of used oil disposal was of particular concern and an area the government wanted progress. She urged conference members to consider extending their "product stewardship" to include consideration of the fate of used lubricating oil from their own vehicle fleets."

"This government is committed to significantly reducing the waste stream and you can expect to see a number of initiatives in this area in the near future."


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