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Waste Bill wins major backing

7 April 2008

Waste Bill wins major backing

The Waste Minimisation Bill, a member's bill in the name of Green MP Nandor Tanczos, has been reported back from select committee with unanimous support.

"The bill is now supported by both the Labour and National Parties, with support also expected from most other parties in Parliament," Nandor says.

The bill, the most comprehensive legislation on waste minimisation and management to have gone through Parliament, has been through a highly unorthodox process. It was first introduced in 2006 and has included two rounds of public consultation and amendments, jointly worked on by the Green Party and the Government, sent to the select committee as a Supplementary Order Paper in the name of the Minister for the Environment in 2007. A total of 316 submissions were received on the original bill and 125 on the amendments.

"The good thing was that just about everyone agreed we need to do something about all the resources we are tossing into landfills. The challenge has been agreeing what to do about it, but it seems we have got there."

The bill as reported back includes: provisions for product stewardship (industry designed but mandatory for priority products); a levy on waste going to landfill at $10 a tonne initially, creating a fund for waste minimisation that will be split between local authorities and a national contestable fund; an independent Waste Advisory Board; some new responsibilities around waste minimisation for local councils; and mandatory reporting requirements so that we can get an accurate picture about waste streams.

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Nandor paid tribute to submitters on the bill for a number of very comprehensive and valuable representations, and to the members of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee for their collaborative approach to the issue.

"The enthusiasm of submitters infected the committee. I think that engaging with the issue hooked members of the committee into a complex and interesting policy area that actually has major environmental and economic importance. It was really encouraging to see members work so well together across party lines."

"It has become pretty clear to us all that we have a growing waste mountain and in many places councils have few options for dealing with it. This Bill will make minimisation core to waste management, and means councils, community groups and the private sector will have funding to fix waste problems. Most importantly, under product stewardship, producers will need to take much more responsibility for the waste created over the life of their products, including the end-of-life impacts."


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