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Tell Govt to get serious about waste

7 July 2005

An opportunity to tell Govt to get serious about waste

The Green Party welcomes Marian Hobbs's Product Stewardship report as an important contribution to the waste debate and a great opportunity for New Zealanders to tell their Government that more needs to be done to tackle the problem, Waste-free Spokesperson Mike Ward says.

The Product Stewardship discussion document, released by Environment Minister Hobbs yesterday, outlines the Government's options for "encouraging businesses and consumers to accept responsibility for the environmental effects of products". Submissions on it are open until 31 August.

"Waste is an important quality of life issue that has profound implications for the future of the planet. So I call on all New Zealanders to respond with 'yes' and 'soon' to the Minister's offer of giving more teeth to the waste minimisation effort," Mr Ward says.

"This report from Marian's Ministry is encouraging in that it suggests that she is at least acknowledging the problem. But she needs to become a bit more staunch and move beyond advocating mere 'encouragement' and only addressing the end of product's useful lives.

"The message I hope people will send her is that the Government should require, through legislation if necessary, that industry sectors develop waste reduction schemes that have enforceable performance targets. We urgently need penalties for unnecessarily high energy and resource content and toxicity, so that responsible manufacturers are not disadvantaged when competing with those who cut corners.

"The Government has consistently advocated working with industries to develop voluntary solutions to waste issues. But the Appendix of this report shows that several existing voluntary schemes have had only limited success. To me, some look like they were only taken on as 'green wash' PR exercises. For example only 10 percent of mobile phones and computers are being recycled.

"Everyone should recycle, but it shouldn't be allowed to be an excuse for short-life products and excessive packaging. As important as resource recovery is, it can only ever mitigate the environmental impact of poor quality goods. After all, it is not possible to undo the pollution and climate change resulting from the manufacture and recycling of vast quantities of environmentally disastrous and largely frivolous imports.

"We should demand things that last. There is an unfilled niche waiting for New Zealand manufacturers willing to produce durable products. We deserve better than the cheap and the tawdry," Mr Ward says.

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