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Environment Committee Overwhelmingly In Favour Of Processing Plastic Waste Domestically

Today, the Parliamentary Environment Committee has recommended by majority that NZ sets a deadline to phase out unlicensed plastic waste exports “to countries beyond Australia”, develop more comprehensive policies to avoid plastic waste creation, increase domestic infrastructure (recognising facilities in Australia), consider regulations to strengthen the licensing and monitoring of waste exports, and increase the monitoring of plastic exports to comply with Basel Convention requirements.

In its 10-page report, the Committee stated, “We agree that it is unethical for communities in Malaysia to bear the burden of New Zealand’s historic under-investment in plastics reprocessing infrastructure.”

The Committee’s report was a response to a petition by Lydia Chai to ban the export of plastic waste to developing countries. The petitioner submitted that the waste processing in Malaysia causes significant health and environmental harms.

NZ is party to the Basel Convention, but plastic waste exports are not regulated under this law because the Convention focuses on hazardous waste – a category that high-grade plastic does not fall under. There is also little data on how much plastic waste NZ generates or exports.

Chai says that the Committee’s report is “encouraging, but falls short of incentivising urgent reforms”.

“I am heartened that majority of the Committee agree it is unethical to be burdening developing countries with our waste. However, without drastic action, such as a ban on exports, the transition to on-shore processing and creating behavioural change to reduce our plastic consumption will be too slow.”

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Notes to Editors

  • Parliament has published the Committee’s report here: https://selectcommittees.parliament.nz/v/6/0c8f3daa-eec0-4dfd-76fa-08dbaa8106fc
  • Lydia Chai’s petition calls for a ban on plastic waste exports to developing countries: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/stop-sending-our-plastic-waste-to-developing-countries

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