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Waste issues require more than just recycling

Waste issues require more than just recycling

Green MP Mike Ward has today told a waste minimisation conference that New Zealand must move beyond recycling if it is to tackle the mounting practical and ethical issues caused by waste and that a Private Members Bill he has planned would enable some important first steps.

Mr Ward was making a presentation called ‘The global implications of waste and how to look at waste like our lives depend on it’ at the Waste Management Institute of NZ’s ‘WasteMINZ’ conference at Sky City in Auckland (see www.wasteminz.org.nz for details).

“As important as it may be to limit how much rubbish is buried by recycling as much of it as possible, we must also consider whether we should be creating so much waste in the first place,” said Mr Ward, the Green Party’s Waste-free Spokesperson.

“While my Waste Minimisation Bill seeks to discourage land fills and encourage recycling and producer responsibility, its underlying rationale is the reduction of waste at source. As important as recycling and resource recovery are, they will only counter a small proportion of the damage done during production. Improving product durability and minimising wastage during manufacturing, packaging and transportation are essential for tackling resource depletion, global environmental degradation and climate change.

“Waste is both a consequence and a symptom of lives lived unwisely. It isn't possible to produce, pay for, dispose of and replace vast quantities of appliances, packaging, buildings and vehicles, or to continue to meet the energy demand of such profligate consumption, without working ever-longer hours. A waste-free New Zealand would mean less work and more play and would allow us to reclaim the quality of our lives.

“The fact that Kiwis are recycling used products and packaging is of little comfort to the people in distant places whose lives have been blighted in sweatshops or whose environments have been degraded so that we can buy these objects in the first place. Over-packaged imports designed for very brief use are a waste of time and resources. New Zealanders deserve great stuff and we are very capable of producing durable, quality merchandise that is ethically and efficiently made. If such production is uneconomic, then it is the economy that must change.

“Could four million people make a difference on a planet with a population of six billion? Yes, because the world is crying out for an example. I can think of no country better placed than New Zealand to provide that example and our children deserve no less than that we make the effort,” said Mr Ward.

Mr Ward’s Waste Minimisation Bill, which will in the next ballot, would: establish a Waste Minimisation Authority to facilitate the move to a less wasteful society; implement a landfill levy on every dumped tonne to deter wasteful behaviour and fund waste minimisation; require producer responsibility for the lifecycle of their products; and phase in bans on certain materials going to landfill, such as organic waste.

Mike Ward’s speech to WasteMINZ can be found at www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/speech8038.html .

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