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New Zealand eager to crack down on waste

The New Zealand government is getting ready to crack down on ‘harmful waste’. Associate environment minister Eugenie Sage has announced plans to boost New Zealand’s recycling rate by 2020, specifically when it comes to tyres and batteries. Minimising landfilling is another top priority.

Waste problems have been ‘long-neglected’, acknowledges associate environment minister Eugenie Sage. New Zealand Environment Ministry officials are now finetuning mandatory product stewardship for tyres, lithium batteries and agricultural chemicals.

By 2020, landfill operators will be required to report on the composition and quantity of waste. Sage adds that the government is also interested in raising the existing NZ$10/tonne disposal levy. This is currently only applied to 11% of New Zealand’s 400 landfills, she notes.

Meanwhile, prime minister Jacinda Ardern says single-use plastic bags will be phased-out by July next year. Hundreds of millions such bags are used annually in New Zealand.  

PM Jacinda Ardern (left) and minister Eugenie Sage are glad 65000 people petitioned to get rid of single-use plastic bags.

Ending bad practices

Sage is aware there is a chance strict measures may increase illegal dumping, or “fly tipping”. She stresses that ‘better enforcement’ is paramount to counter such practices.

With regards to treating end-of-life tyres, it’s likely the measures include a ‘tyre tax’ paid by the consumer. An estimated 4 million tyres are discarded across New Zealand every year. The majority of them is landfilled or dumped in the outdoors.

Finally stepping up

‘It is great that they are making the announcement but we are two decades behind the rest of the planet when it comes to electronic waste, tyres and even putting 10% deposits on beverage containers,’ comments Zero Waste representative Marty Hoffart. He urges: ‘We need to step up.’

Sage laments that she wants to shift the economy ‘to being a more productive and sustainable and inclusive economy’.

“Recycling Kingdom” street art painting in Napier, New Zealand.

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