The Local Government Waste Manifesto has been updated. Back in 2018, the Waste Manifesto identified five key actions to ensure real reductions in waste to landfill. Since the Manifesto was written dramatic changes have occurred in the recycling sector.

“China used to be the main market for over 50% of the world’s recycling. In July 2017 China announced it was restricting imports of recyclable materials with changes taking effect from the end of 2017, just before the Manifesto was released.  These changes started having a major impact on recycling markets from early 2018, in particular for grades of paper and plastic collected from kerbside, which now have virtually no market value.” says Sophie Mander Waste Minimisation Strategic Planner at Queenstown Lakes District Council and Chair of the TA Forum.

“Then COVID-19 struck further shrinking international commodity markets for plastics and certain grades of paper, due to reduced trade and reduced virgin plastic prices. Despite this, real progress is currently  being  made. Firstly with the announcement from the Ministry that the waste disposal levy will be expanded and increased to provide an incentive for businesses to divert waste from landfill and now with the announcement of priority product status for products as a diverse as agrichemicals, ewaste, plastic packaging and tyres. In light of this it is  timely to review progress and identify the further actions required in this changing global market.”

The original manifesto had five key actions:

  1. Review the New Zealand Waste Strategy to set a clear programme for action – no progress identified
  2. Expand the Waste Disposal Levy and progressively raise the levy to reduce waste to landfill – action announced in July 
  3. Officially adopt the National Waste Data Framework to enable better planning and monitoring – limited progress identified
  4. Introduce a Container Deposit Scheme to lift recycling rates and reduce litter and marine pollution – research underway
  5. Declare tyres, e-waste and, agrichemicals and plastics as priority products – announced in July

Three additional actions have now been identified

  1. Invest in onshore and local infrastructure for processing of recovered materials – in particular plastics, paper, organics and building materials
  2. Standardise household rubbish and recycling collection systems to improve the quality of material collected and the materials that are collected.
  3. Phase out the use of hard to recycle plastics, and initiate a compulsory national label for recyclability on packaging.

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 updated Local Government Waste Manifesto can be viewed here.