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Revised Waste Bill Has Chance To Get It Right

8th November 2007


Packaged Goods Industry says that revised Waste Bill provides a chance to get it right first time

The Packaging Council today told the Select Committee hearing the Supplementary Order Paper to the Waste Bill that the recommendations in its submission reflect the opinions of the vast majority of New Zealand’s packaged goods industry.

Paul Curtis, Executive Director of the Packaging Council said that industry welcomed the much improved proposed legislation, but believes that there are key parts which need to be strengthened to provide greater clarity for everyone about what is subject to legislation and for what reason; and how funds raised will be spent.

“We are absolutely committed to the Packaging Accord which was the first voluntary product stewardship programme in New Zealand and is an agreement that involves industry, local and central government and the recycling sector. We recommend this as the model for other voluntary schemes and will be starting the process of negotiating the next Accord in early 2008. Where an industry sector is not willing or able to come to the table with a properly constructed voluntary scheme, legislation may be the most appropriate solution but the notion of priority products requiring mandatory product stewardship schemes has been introduced from left field.”

“We are recommending amendments which would both motivate industry to invest in voluntary schemes and set a clearer framework for determining what constitutes a priority product. A decision to legislate across a product group or sector will impact the whole economy and cannot be made on the whim of public concern which can be whipped up by the latest sound-bite. The decision to legislate has to be based on the economic and scientific facts alone.”

Mr Curtis told MPs that whilst the Packaging Council is not convinced that the introduction of a waste levy is the most efficient way to provide funds for waste minimization, it accepts that there has been broad support for this tax. The Packaging Council will be seeking an exemption from the levy for waste generated from recycling, for example the residual contaminated clay from paper pulping, to overcome the perverse outcome that the levy would otherwise increase the cost of recycling and could make some recycling operations unviable.

“To make economic sense however funds need to be directed to initiatives of national strategic importance thereby consolidating waste streams, building capacity and volume and developing new markets. If industry is going to fund waste minimization, then it should at least know that it’s going to be money well spent. Simply allocating 50% of the funds on an uncontested basis to 85 local councils based on population will lead to huge amounts of wasted money and have a limited impact on the country’s waste. On this we agree with many parts of the waste management industry who would like to see a 100% contestable fund.”

“We are also concerned that the SOP seems to be creating a hybrid situation where some matters of waste minimisation are decided at local level and some at national level with no clear indication which is to prevail. The prospect of significant inconsistencies between regions has the potential to make for intolerable business operating conditions for companies that operate nationally.”

“To address this, we believe that it is entirely reasonable that territorial authorities should be required to take into account existing regulations or product stewardship schemes when making a bylaw or amending an existing by-law. Otherwise the very best of local intentions could give rise to the very worst of national unintended consequences.”

Mr Curtis told the Select Committee that the private and public sector are on the same page in wanting to get a sustainable waste management policy for New Zealand and the amendments suggested would help get it right first time.
The Packaging Council’s submission to the Select Committee is available on www.packaging.org.nz.


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