The changes and action needed to enable effective waste management

Local Government is calling on Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage to make key changes, which will allow central and local government to work together effectively to achieve the government’s goal of minimising waste to landfill with significant reductions in all waste classes. A newly developed Local Government Waste Manifesto, released today, highlights that waste is a significant issue for local government to deal with. However, a lack of supporting Government policy and action has constrained councils’ ability to address waste issues effectively.

The Local Government Waste Manifesto was developed by the WasteMINZ TA Forum which is comprised of waste officers from 64 city and district councils from around New Zealand.

Parul Sood, Waste Planning Manager at Auckland Council and Chair of the TA Forum said the manifesto sets out the waste management actions which the forum considers the Government should prioritise. “These actions will enable real reductions in waste to landfill and reduce the costs borne by councils and their communities,” said Sood.

The manifesto has five key elements:

  1. Review the New Zealand Waste Strategy to set a clear programme for action
  2. Expand the Waste Disposal Levy and progressively raise the levy to reduce waste to landfill
  3. Officially adopt the National Waste Data Framework to enable better planning and monitoring
  4. Introduce a Container Deposit Scheme to lift recycling rates and reduce litter and marine pollution
  5. Declare tyres, e-waste and, agrichemicals and plastics as priority products

 

Why recycling and waste reduction matters:

Donna Peterson, Senior Waste Officer for WasteNet Southland, said that waste represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand, which we are yet to take advantage of.

“Waste is the result of an unsustainable, linear use of materials. Taking action on waste can drive transformation back up the value chain and bring about significant positive changes throughout the economy, and ultimately move us towards a more circular model,” said Peterson.

The manifesto states that reducing waste and making full use of the value of materials will lead to the following positive outcomes for New Zealand:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • More efficient industries and services
  • Improved soil quality and the need to use less fertilisers
  • A reduced reliance on importing materials
  • An increase in economic activity and jobs
  • Reduced environmental and marine impacts

The priorities set out in the manifesto are only some of the areas that the Government can take action on to reduce waste, but they are ones that the TA Forum considers will have the most impact in setting New Zealand on the right path.“There are of course other waste issues which are of importance to councils,” said Sood. “In particular single-use plastic bags, where the TA Forum has led research and supported campaign activities advocating for change. Issues like this, while not part of our manifesto, are still vitally important to our communities and part of New Zealand’s transition towards a circular economy.”

The TA Forum are pleased to see that Minister Sage has already asked officials to look into a compulsory product stewardship scheme for e-waste, as this waste stream is addressed in the manifesto.

 The full manifesto can be read here