Media release: 29 July 2020

The Government’s significant announcement today to introduce mandatory product stewardship across a range of products is welcomed in principle by WasteMINZ.

WasteMINZ is an authority on waste, resource recovery and contaminated land in New Zealand, and its members were involved in the public consultation leading to the declaration.

WasteMINZ CEO Janine Brinsdon says: “This is a huge step-change in the way we approach the lifecycle of a product and will bring New Zealand closer to a circular economy,” she says. “It is imperative our members now have input into the design of schemes that could have far-reaching impacts on material and waste streams across New Zealand.”

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage today announced the establishment of regulated product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act for Plastic packaging; Tyres; Electrical and electronic products (e-waste); Agrichemicals and their containers; Refrigerants and Farm plastics.

“The volume of e-waste and plastic packaging is significant and the detail of what is and isn’t to be included is critical,” Janine says. “The work needs to begin now to ensure multiple stakeholders from producers, to waste collectors and processors, recyclers and community groups have input into the design of the named priority products’ schemes. WasteMINZ is uniquely placed to facilitate this feedback and make a positive contribution.”

Laurence Zwimpfer, who chairs WasteMINZ’ Product Stewardship Sector Group’s steering committee, says: “This is going to allow significant progress in efforts to recover materials and divert waste from landfill.

“While various voluntary product stewardship schemes have made some progress in dealing with these problematic waste streams, to be truly effective product stewardship schemes need to be regulated. This means all producers, retailers and users of a material take responsibility for ensuring a material is not only responsibly disposed of but that it maintains a higher value for longer, which can influence the upstream design of a product to make it more recoverable.”

Declaration of these priority product groups marks the end of the first phase of a two-stage process which began in August 2019 and involved consultation, not only on the proposed list of priority products, but also on the proposed ministerial guidelines for the design of accredited schemes.  

Sophie Mander, the Chair of the WasteMINZ Territorial Authorities’ Officers (TAO) Forum, says councils are delighted that schemes will be established for materials that up until now councils have had to deal with.

“This is something the TAO Forum has been advocating for and it was officially endorsed in the TAO Forum’s Waste Manifesto, which was released in 2018 and sets out the waste minimisation actions that local government thinks central government should prioritise.”

“We look forward to hearing more of the detail especially regarding plastic packaging. As part of a product stewardship scheme for plastic packaging the TAO Forum would like to see compulsory labelling for recyclability and the phasing out of hard to recycle plastics, which are currently being landfilled”.  

WasteMINZ and its Product Stewardship Sector Group (PSSG) and TAO Forum eagerly await the opportunity to contribute to the design of the schemes.

Read the Minister’s announcement here.