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Waste Bill a win - win

17 May 2006
Waste Bill a win - win

The Green Party's Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill is expected to get enough votes to comfortably pass its first reading and move to select committee, MP Nandor Tanczos says.

"I am pleased that most parties recognise that we have to do something about the avalanche of waste we are generating in New Zealand. This bill not only creates an economic engine to drive reuse and recycling, it also creates mechanisms for reducing the production of waste in the first place," Nandor says.

The Bill, which was initiated by former Green MP Mike Ward and taken over by Nandor after the 2005 election, is expected to be debated in the House tonight. It was pulled from the Parliamentary ballot earlier this month.

Nandor says the amount of waste disposed of in landfills in New Zealand now is about 3.4 million tonnes a year and a similar amount of building and demolition waste goes to cleanfills. Combined, that equates to approximately 1.67 tonnes per person in New Zealand (MfE New Zealand Waste Strategy 2002) and it is becoming an increasingly significant problem for local communities and local authorities.

"The bill also has the potential to decrease the local authority rates that New Zealanders pay by reducing our dependence on dead-end landfills. More reuse and recycling will mean that the value of resources will be maximised and a number of new jobs will be created. It's a win-win, " Nandor says.

The bill seeks to discourage dumping in landfills, encourage recycling and reuse, and set in place extended producer responsibility so that brand owners must factor in the waste generated over the life of their products. It does this by setting in place:

1. A Waste Minimisation Authority
This would have an educational and facilitation role and provide advice to the Minister. It would set and monitor targets for reducing the amount of waste to landfills, cleanfills and incinerators, approve and monitor Extended Producer Responsibility programmes and administer the landfill levy.

2. Waste Control Authorities
Territorial authorities would constitute, either individually or jointly, Waste Control Authorities. They are empowered to enforce requirements of this Bill through bylaw-making and licensing provisions.

3. Bans of materials to landfill
Phased in bans will be introduced for materials which can be recovered, but only where systems already exist, diverting them from waste disposal facilities and using them more productively.

4. Landfill levy
The Bill creates a levy on every tonne of waste that is sent for disposal. The fund generated would be split 50/50 between local Waste Control Authorities and the national Waste Minimisation Authority and could only be used for waste minimisation purposes.

5. Extended Producer Responsibility
Extended producer responsibility programmes will be required for certain products. These require the producer of the product to take responsibility for the product throughout its lifecycle, from design through to the products' end-of-life.

6. Organisational Waste Minimisation plans
All organisations will adopt and implement Waste Minimisation plans to facilitate a decrease in the amount of waste they produce. This requirement is phased in over a 10-year period.

7. Public procurement policies
Public organisations would be required to give priority to purchasing products and services that either decrease waste generation or support markets for recycled materials.

The Bill is believed to have the support of most MPs, Nandor says.


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