By MfE deputy secretary Sam Buckle

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) is taking a leadership role by developing a new waste strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand.

The strategy will set the direction and guide investment to address our waste and resource recovery challenges over the coming decades.

It is being developed throughout 2021 with Māori, the waste sector and industry, waste producers, local government and other interested parties.

The strategy will be underpinned by MfE’s work to strengthen and update waste-related legislation, including the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 and Litter Act 1979.

There has been a strong call from many involved in the waste sector for a strategy that sets out a long-term vision, values, principles and goals for New Zealand’s waste management system.

They are also seeking coherent and practical direction to guide investment, planning and activity within the sector.  

The strategy project began in September 2020 with the formation of a rōpu of Māori experts to guide the kaupapa according to mātauranga Māori.

A sector advisory group was established at the same time, including waste professionals from across business, academia, NGOs and local government.

Public consultation on a draft strategy will be held in the second half of 2021.

Waste legislation review

The review of New Zealand’s waste and resource efficiency legislation will involve looking at how provisions within the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 and Litter Act 1979 could be improved or amended, as well as considering new provisions not already in these Acts.

With upcoming changes to the waste levy regime, there is a need to revise the purposes for which levy funds can be used by central and local government. Also, a need to enhance administrative and decision-making processes to invest funds more effectively.

The review will strengthen various legislative provisions to support the wide-ranging Government work programme for waste including, for example, regulated product stewardship and a National Plastics Action Plan.

The legislation will strongly underpin the new waste strategy for New Zealand, by providing tools and incentives to transform the waste sector and help transition to a more circular and resource-efficient economy.

In the first half of 2021, MfE will focus on gathering evidence and developing draft legislative proposals.