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Simple system helps ministry shed kilos

Simple system helps ministry shed kilos

The Ministry for the Environment has slashed the waste it sends to landfill by 80 per cent thanks to introducing a simple rubbish reduction system.

The Ministry for the Environment's success in reducing its waste was highlighted by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs at an event today acknowledging what the public sector is doing to reduce its impact on the environment.

"The ministry's 250 staff are proving that small changes can make a big difference," Marian Hobbs said. "The average office worker creates up to 80 kilograms of rubbish a year. Ministry staff have cut their waste to 6.5 kilograms each. They have applied straight-forward solutions to what used to be their rubbish, by recycling or reusing it, composting food scraps and double-sided printing."

More than 20 government agencies are now participating in the voluntary Govt3 programme [pronounced govt three] led by the ministry. [Govt3 stands for the three foundations of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.] The agencies, such as Treasury, Transit New Zealand, Inland Revenue Department, Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Justice, are working together to "walk the talk" and minimise their environmental impact.

"The government spends $2.5 billion annually on its day to day business. The majority of New Zealanders, including 35,000 public servants, want to know that government is spending its money wisely and thinking about long-term value and outcomes.

"While waste reduction is an easy win, opportunities exist in all areas of government businesses, including purchasing strategies, smart energy use and triple bottom line reporting. The Ministry for the Environment has recently leased two hybrid cars, which run on petrol and battery power and has just undertaken an energy audit. Next year it will move to a new building that will promote improvements in energy and environmental efficiency," Marian Hobbs said.

Other examples of actions by government agencies include:

fifty-two agencies signing up to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s Energy-Wise Government Scheme New Zealand Police signing a nationwide cleaning contract that included environmental clauses – the contract is syndicated so other departments can join in without going to tender New Zealand Post appointing an Environment and Social Responsibility Coordinator Housing New Zealand Corporation's environmental policy that includes insulating houses to save energy and improve residents' health. Transit New Zealand's waste and energy management policy.

"These examples showcase the government's commitment to sustainable development, and how they can be innovative and productive as they go about it," Marian Hobbs said.

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