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Greens and Government Co-operate on Waste Bill

18 September 2007

Greens and Government Co-operate on Waste Bill

The Green Party and the Government today announced joint amendments to the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill currently before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

Green Party MP and Waste Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos has been working with the Minister for the Environment to improve the Bill, to be renamed the Waste Minimisation and Resource Recovery Bill. A Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) will be introduced to the Select Committee this week as a result.

"When we introduced the Bill we acknowledged that it needed some work to streamline it. The original Bill involved greater compliance costs than necessary to achieve the desired outcomes," Nandor says.

"Member's Bills are written without the resources of government departments, and working with the Minister has provided us the opportunity to utilise the Ministry's resources to refine the Bill.

"We have collaborated with Acting Minister David Parker, and his predecessor David Benson-Pope, to make a better piece of legislation, and I thank them for that.

"Waste is an ongoing environmental issue in our consumer society. New Zealand disposes of more than three million tonnes of waste into landfills each year, and it is growing. The public readily recognises the waste problem and wants to be part of the solution. This Bill makes that easier.

"New Zealanders have taken up recycling with gusto, but they need producers to come to the party by redesigning their products and packaging to use readily recyclable components, and provide easily accessible opportunities to recycle.

"The principle mechanisms of the Bill remain unchanged; but the methods and detail of their implementation and administration have been improved. The two core components of the original Waste Bill - the waste minimisation fund and product stewardship - remain the best tools for reducing our waste mountain, and a levy on waste to landfill will provide a fund to be 'recycled' into waste minimisation initiatives in all sectors: private, public and community.

"The Product Stewardship scheme requires producers to take more responsibility for end-of-life collection, diversion and disposal. Most importantly, it will create a motive for manufacturers to redesign their products and packaging to reduce the amount of waste created.

"This Bill is about more than just making it easier to recycle; it uses a variety of tools to tackle the source of waste and create incentives to reduce the quantity of waste created. The Bill is more efficient, more effective, and requires less compliance costs as a result of this SOP," Nandor says.

Waste Minimisation and Resource Recovery Bill - SOP Factsheet

Background The Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill was originally drafted and placed in the ballot by former Green Party MP Mike Ward. It was subsequently re-entered by Nandor Tanczos MP and drawn in May 2006. In June 2006, the Bill passed its first reading with Green, Labour, Maori Party and New Zealand First support. It went to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, which received wide and varied submissions from the public. The Select Committee has engaged in constructive debate on the best way to meet the Bill's waste minimisation objectives.

Earlier this year the Government announced policy objectives on waste reduction as part of the Prime Minister's aspiration of sustainability. Along with the Greens, the Government also favours introducing a modest waste levy and providing some regulatory backstop for product stewardship schemes. The Bill already contains those two mechanisms, and the Government has agreed to continue to support the Bill in order to advance its policy agenda on Waste.

Since the completion of the select committee public hearings on the Bill, Nandor has worked with then Minister for the Environment David Benson-Pope and latterly with Acting Minister David Parker on a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to be introduced to the Select Committee as a way of addressing concerns raised by submitters as well as issues with the original wording of the Bill.

This has resulted in an SOP which will retain the core elements of the Bill, while improving their implementation. Some features have been removed, as foreshadowed in public statements by Nandor. Overall, the purpose and key tools of the Bill have not changed.

In July, the Business Council for Sustainable Development's ShapeNZ poll showed strong support for a levy on waste-to-landfill - 62% in favour, with only 19% opposed, with even higher support amongst 'business' respondents. Support spanned respondent's political party preference. There was less support for Container Deposit Legislation, but neither the Waste Bill nor the SOP require this - instead they create a framework for product stewardship, of which CDL is one possible mechanism if it can be shown to have general support and to be effective at meeting waste reduction targets.

The SOP and what has changed Part 1 renames the Bill as the Waste Minimisation and Resource Recovery Bill, to better reflect the dual purposes of reducing waste and recycling resources. Some definitions of terms have changed, and the Select Committee will need to consider these carefully. Part 2 of the SOP replaces the original Bill's term of an 'Extended Producer Responsibility' scheme with a Product Stewardship Scheme.

There is little difference in practice. A list of 'priority products' for product stewardship will be developed. Relevant stakeholders will then design a scheme to address the end-of-life collection, recycling and disposal of that product, and the waste associated with the product over its life including in manufacture and packaging. Part 3 of the SOP retains the Waste Levy. It sets the initial levy at $10 per tonne of waste to landfills, with regulatory power to increase this over time (NB.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development has suggested raising it to $30 over three years to fully internalise the externalities associated with landfilling). Regulation will also allow the inclusion of further facilities such as cleanfills where appropriate. With landfill waste at over 3 million tonnes, a levy initially at $10 a tonne is likely to raise $30 million dollars. All levy funds will be recycled into Waste Minimisation initiatives in the public, private and community sectors.

Part 4 of the Bill transfers the waste provisions of the Local Government Act (replacing the Waste Control Authority part of the original Bill). Part 5 sets offences and enforcement. Part 6 requires better public reporting of waste data. Part 7 establishes the Waste Advisory Board. This replaces the Waste Minimisation Authority of the original Bill, and will advise the Minister on the effectiveness of the levy and how it should be dispersed, and on elements of Product Stewardship such as priority product lists and scheme design.

The Board will comprise of people with strong records in waste management, enterprise, public sector and community groups. Parts of the Original Bill removed The parts of the Bill removed are the original Part 4 providing for certain wastes to be banned from landfills, original Part 7 requiring every organisation to develop a waste minimisation plan, and original Part 8 around public procurement.

The Green Party has agreed to these changes because they are no longer needed: disposal bans have been included as a possible instrument of product stewardship under the regulatory powers in the new Part 2, waste management plans for all organisations are acknowledged as difficult to implement, and public procurement is deemed to be adequately covered by existing Got procurement policies.

The Process into Law The SOP is to be introduced to the Select Committee by the Minister for the Environment on Thursday 20 September or soon after. It is expected that the Select Committee will send the SOP out to submitters for a limited consultation, bearing in mind that it does not introduce any new tools. The Select Committee will then report back to the House. The current report back date is 31 October.

ENDS


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