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Zero Waste Target Can Be Achieved By 2020

Zero Waste Target Can Be Achieved By 2020

Waste Elimination Group Provides Alternative National Strategy

The group campaigning for a waste-free country has produced a radical plan for eliminating New Zealand’s chronic waste problem.

The strategy has been produced by Zero Waste New Zealand Trust in response to a discussion document in waste minimisation produced for the Ministry for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand. The alternative national strategy contains a detailed plan for how New Zealand can achieve zero waste within 20 years. Benefits of this would include huge savings in foreign exchange and raw material costs, increased employment, environmental protection, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, international recognition for a world “first”, and valuable credibility for New Zealand’s “100% Pure” brand.

Compiled with the support of international waste specialists, the strategy advocates a national waste target of zero to be achieved with a range of economic instruments, incentives, education and better co-ordination of existing waste elimination programmes through a national Zero Waste Agency.

The document cites numerous studies that have shown that New Zealand can easily cut landfill volumes by 50% through kerbside and greenwaste recycling. The balance can be reduced through focusing on the source of waste. The plan proposes 46 specific waste elimination methods, including:

* Landfill fees based on real-cost accounting

* A national landfill levy to fund a Zero Waste agency, similar to agencies establish in the UK, New South Wales, Victoria and Christchurch.

*A progressive ban on toxic materials in landfills.

* Stockpiling of sorted materials, possibly below ground, while re-processing methods are being perfected.

* A pay-as-you-throw regime to increase costs for waste generators.

* A packaging levy on all non biodegradable and non-reusable packaging.

* Deposit/refund schemes for food and beverage packaging.

* Advance disposal fees to be incorporated in the price of big ticket items, such as computers, televisions and vehicles, which can be redeemed when products are dismantled for re-manufacturing.

Zero Waste New Zealand Trust says the Government’s national waste strategy, to be developed by June 2001, must include concrete goals – such as 80% waste reduction within five years -- and encourage systems that out-compete existing waste disposal methods.

Zero Waste has deliberately set an audacious target which has been the catalyst for major progress with waste elimination since Zero Waste New Zealand Trust was established four years ago. Already one-third of all local authorities have made a commitment to a zero landfilling waste target by between 2015 and 2020. Some communities are diverting up to 67 per cent of their waste stream from landfill, and at least one is on track to achieve an 80 per cent reduction by the end of 2002.

Zero Waste trustee Warren Snow says New Zealand has been a waste-hiding society for a long time. “We have paid for people to take our waste and hide it somewhere, usually in a hole in the ground. After decades of wasting our resources, people are realising that it can’t go on. We are in effect borrowing capital from the environment and our children with no intention of ever paying it back,” he says.

“Rather than settling for the idea of managing waste through incremental change we should adopt the only safe approach to waste and eliminate it completely,” he says.

Copies of the Zero Waste strategy are available at www.zerowaste.co.nz. Submissions can by made to the Ministry for the Environment, Wellington, until 1 March 2001.

ends

Further information: Julie Dickinson Warren Snow
Manager Trustee
Zero Waste NZ Trust Zero Waste NZ Trust
Phone (09) 486 0734 Phone (09) 489 2129

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