WasteMINZ COVID-19 Blog, 30 March 2020
To register or not to register? That is the question for ‘essential’ businesses and services as the portal closes.
Many businesses are still confused as to what is classified as ‘essential’ and what to do if it applies to your company.
Essential businesses were meant to register with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) by 5pm last Friday, 27 March 2020. However, as information was moving and changing so fast last week during the first stages of the lockdown, the registration process has been held open and there’s still time to fill in your online form.
Essential primary businesses
The Ministry for Primary Industries describes essential primary businesses as “essential to the provision of the necessities of life may remain open during the Level 4 Alert period. If a business is unsure whether it provides such products or services, it should shut its premises.”
A number of such services have been identified on the Government COVID-19 website, which further explains that “businesses carrying out these functions can remain open, including any critical suppliers in their supply chains (e.g. a firm repairing IT and data infrastructure without which an entity cannot provide an essential service).”
What does it mean for the waste sector?
One of our members went through the process last week. “We are a composting/recycling business accepting waste streams from various meat works (which are counted as essential work-places) and supplying the transport for most of these customers. We wanted to know whether we’d need an official confirmation to be known as an essential business, and a “certificate” allowing us to be on the roads for stop checks.
“Going through the process, we were considered essential as part of the supply chain. We are supplying a collection of waste streams for an essential service, so we are essential due to them. We cannot sell any product – we need to hold on to what we have so we can process the waste streams.
“As a supply chain service who are part of the transportation for collection, we are totally reliant on what the freezing works are doing. If they close, we won’t need to provide this essential service.
“We discovered it’s not vital to have written confirmation in our staff vehicles, but it definitely helps to put our staff at ease and makes any stops go smoothly. One of our drivers got stopped this morning on way to work by police. We stated that we were an essential business, this person works for us in this capacity, with work hours being x to y, and attached our business card for phone enquiries.”
Their advice is to go through the process. “It can at least give you some clarity and peace of mind.”
I believe mine is an essential business
If you think your business qualifies as essential, you should register as soon as possible as the original deadline has already gone by and the portal may close soon.
What if you’re not sure whether it qualifies? “If in doubt, complete the registration,” says Rachel Parker of Plastics NZ, who has found out as much as possible about the registration process.
Those businesses who answer ‘No’ to the following questions MUST register.
If you answer YES to both of those questions, then you do not need to fill in the registration form.
Filling out the registration form
To help you prepare all the information required and make the process smoother, all the questions you will be asked in the registration form are laid out below.
Responses from MPI
You should receive a confirmation email that your registration has gone through. However: “We have been advised by several companies that they have not received it, or that they have had issues with the system dropping out part-way through,” says Rachel Parker.
If this occurs to you repeatedly, we recommend completing the questions above and emailing the responses to email@example.com with an explanation as to why you are sending it.
A confirmation email received today (30 March 2020) from Bryan Wilson, MPI’s Deputy Director-General New Zealand Food Safety, stated that MPI may carry out further checks on safety through emails, calls or possibly site visits.
If you are still unsure if your business is an essential service, you can ring 0508 377 388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you have an example like Paranui Organics of what has been classified as essential or non-essential in the waste industry, help your colleagues by sharing it here on the blog.
Editor’s note 31 March 2020
Information on the www.covid19.govt.nz website suggests that waste companies, as an essential service, do not need to register.