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Government won’t lead on waste

Government won’t lead on waste

The Government has quietly backtracked on setting up mandatory product stewardship schemes for New Zealand’s most problematic waste streams, the Green Party said today.

“This is a big step backwards in the battle to reduce the 3.2 million tonnes of waste that ends up in our landfills each year,” said Green Party waste spokesperson David Clendon.

The Waste Minimisation Act gives the Minister for the Environment the power to require waste products that cause significant environmental harm to be disposed of safely or recycled. Answers to Written Questions lodged by the Green Party reveal that the Government has no plans to manage environmentally harmful waste products.

“Voluntary waste stewardship isn’t working, so why would the Minister continue to give industry free rein to sort out our waste problem?

“In reality, this will mean that there will now only be action on the waste that industry deems affordable and easy to tackle,” said Mr Clendon.

Without mandatory product stewardship schemes applied to the country’s most toxic and polluting waste streams, thousands of tonnes of e-waste, tyres, motor vehicles, batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs will continue to go to landfill each year.

“Once again, John Key’s Government is damaging our clean green image by neglecting our environment.”

The Waste Minimisation Act was a Green initiative adopted by the previous Labour Government. Mandatory product stewardship would require importers, manufacturers, and retailers to take more responsibility for the end-of-life collection and disposal of their products. Without product stewardship, manufacturers have no incentive to redesign their products and packaging to reduce waste.

“The National Government consulted on a list of priority products for mandatory product stewardship back in March 2009 in its Waste Minimisation in New Zealand discussion document. Despite receiving close to 250 submissions on the proposals, the Government has never responded to submitters on the outcome of the consultation, and has only now admitted that it has abandoned mandatory product stewardship,” said Mr Clendon

“This is poor process, leading unsurprisingly to another poor environmental outcome — one that will leave our waste bill for future generations to pick up.”


Waste Minimisation in New Zealand discussion document:
http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/waste/waste-minimisation-discussion-document/waste-minimisation-discussion-document.pdf

ENDS

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