Local government leadership is crucial to turn around New Zealand’s approach to waste, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage says.
Today at its AGM and conference Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) voted to support several proposals to tackle recycling and waste problems, including calling for strong Government leadership.
“I welcome local government's support and leadership on the pressing issue of waste reduction. Work is underway in the Ministry for the Environment in the areas identified by LGNZ,” Eugenie Sage said.
“Since becoming Associate Environment Minister with responsibility for waste I have heard loud and clear that New Zealanders want leadership in this space.
“China’s ban on importing recyclables is creating challenges and opportunities internationally and in New Zealand.
“New Zealand was sending 15 million kg overseas annually – mainly mixed paper and mixed plastics. China’s ban means that prices for the recyclable material in remaining markets have dropped dramatically. Sending our waste overseas is not the answer.
“A taskforce has been set up in the Ministry for the Environment to work alongside councils and recycling businesses and processors. One of its first actions is an urgent review of our collection and processing services for recyclables.
“The Government is using funds from the waste levy on landfills to invest in projects to reduce waste volumes and increase our onshore processing capacity.
“Officials are also working on how to better implement the Waste Minimisation Act, including expanding the waste levy to more landfills, and improving the data we have on recyclables and waste generally.
“Work is also underway on how to reduce the environmental harm of products, such as end of life tyres. A mandatory product stewardship scheme would see producers, retailers and consumers all helping fund and deal with the problem.
“We know single use plastic bags are a problem, with an estimated 1.5 billion plastics bags used each year in New Zealand.
“I applaud councils for their practical commitment to phasing out single use plastic bags and straws at council facilities and events. How the Government intends to deal with single use plastic bags will be announced in coming months.”