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Toxics Policy Summary

Catherine Delahunty MP
catherine [dot] delahunty [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)
Read the full Toxics policy section in the Environment policy.

We want all New Zealanders to be healthy and safe from toxic chemicals. That's why we're working with the Government to clean up the deadly legacy of toxic sites.

Our Toxics Policy is also about adopting a safe and practical approach to managing chemical use, which puts protecting our children and environment in front of the interests of big chemical companies.

In many areas of our economy, we can substitute safer alternatives for toxic chemicals, and where we can't, we can use the least harmful option available.

By increasing information available to consumers and producers, and adopting the precautionary principle, we can make better choices about the chemicals we use.

The following Green Party policies also contain issues relating to toxics: Agriculture, Animal welfare, Children, Conservation, Environment, Health, Housing, Safe food, Tax, Trade, Transport, Waste, Women

Key Principles

  • People will avoid using toxic chemicals wherever possible
  • Whenever we do need to use a toxic chemical we will evaluate all alternative options and use the least harmful practical method

Specific Policy Points

Substitution with less harmful alternatives

  • Support and fund research into the development of non-toxic alternatives to toxic substances.
  • Amend legislation to require that preference be given to any less hazardous substances or methods that are practicable.
  • Reassess currently registered hazardous substances with a view to deregistering a substance if less hazardous substances or methods are available.
  • Develop and implement a transitional strategy for industries and occupations using substances that need to be phased out.

Taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty

The Green Party will amend relevant legislation so that the benefit of the doubt is given to humans and the environment rather than the chemical.

Banning persistent, accumulative and highly toxic chemicals

We will identify all existing hazardous substances that are persistent, accumulative, highly toxic, carcinogenic, reproductive or neurological toxicants, and/or endocrine disruptors and:

  • Rapidly phase out these chemicals where safer practicable alternatives exist
  • Fund research into safer alternatives where these are not already available
  • Require the tracking of these chemicals from their manufacture or importation through to their destruction or final disposal
  • Ban aerial spraying of these chemicals

The Green Party will require that assessments of toxic chemicals take into account:

  • all stages of the chemical's life cycle from its manufacture or importation through to its destruction or final disposal
  • the effects on the unborn foetus and newborn children, and the safe exposure levels for them. Currently exposure limits are set on the basis of acceptable effects for an average, healthy, 70kg adult male, even though every other sector of society has higher susceptibility.

The duty of responsibility/care

  • Ban exports of toxic waste unless for the purpose of safe recycling or reprocessing
  • Make aerial spraying a non-complying activity in district and regional plans, so that an application has to be made for permission to use aerial spraying methods
  • Only permit aerial spraying when it is the safest, least toxic, effective, feasible method of achieving the desired outcome
  • Ensure a thorough review of health and ecological impacts where there has been significant public exposure, for example as a result of aerial spraying
  • Develop an independent, Treaty-based agency to monitor levels of toxic contamination in environment, humans and food, and the effects of this contamination

The Green Party will apply the polluter pays principle to:

  • provide an economic incentive - HSNO levy will vary in proportion to toxicity and persistence of chemicals
  • make users and suppliers of chemicals financially liable for their effects
  • fund the cleaning up of contaminated sites
  • fund the development of non-chemical alternatives
  • support businesses undergoing transition to safer products and processes

Public Participation

  • Ensure that the public are directly represented on ERMA
  • Ensure that there is appropriate public input into decisions that may expose people to toxins, such as allowing aerial spraying

The Right to know

  • Pass legislation so that people are entitled to know the full ingredients list and potential consequences of chemicals they or their children are exposed to
  • Require full content labelling of cosmetics, personal care products, household products, fertilisers and pesticides, including inert ingredients
  • Introduce a publicly available inventory of the use of toxic chemicals in New Zealand
  • Ensure workers know how they can protect themselves against the chemicals they are exposed to

Justice and human rights

  • Make agrichemical trespass across boundaries illegal
  • Ensure the rights of workers to protection from toxic substances
  • Improve access to compensation for people affected by toxic substances, including through improved training of medical personnel

Cleaning up the mess

  • Set up a national register of contaminated sites
  • Require hazardous wastes to be collected and stored in secure containment until decontamination and remediation processes are developed and implemented
  • Support further research into innovative remediation techniques for contaminated sites, such as the use of plants
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