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Greens say Govt failing to act on waste

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 7 NZPA - The Government is being accused of failing to force industry to deal with its waste but Environment Minister Nick Smith says it wants to take a carrot rather than stick approach.

Green Party waste spokesman David Clendon said the Government had "quietly backtracked" on setting up mandatory product stewardship schemes under the Waste Management Act. The schemes would require importers, manufacturers, and retailers to take more responsibility for collection and disposal of their products.

"This is a big step backwards in the battle to reduce the 3.2 million tonnes of waste that ends up in our landfills each year," Mr Clendon said.

"Voluntary waste stewardship isn't working, so why would the minister continue to give industry free rein to sort out our waste problem? In reality, this will mean that there will now only be action on the waste that industry deems affordable and easy to tackle."

Products like e-waste, tyres, motor vehicles, batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs would continue to end up in landfills, he said.

Dr Smith said his focus last year had been on retaining kerb-side recycling during the recession which killed the international market for many of the products.

This year the Government had put in place voluntary product stewardship schemes for glass, used oil and silage wrap.

The schemes come under the Act and involve the industry collecting and reusing the products they sell.

"National favours working with the industry and not adding extra red tape with mandatory schemes. There's good steps being made by industry in the waste area. We're not ruling out using the mandatory provisions but wherever possible are wanting to work with the industry."

National voted for the Act when in Opposition.

"We think there is important work to be done around reducing the environmental impacts of New Zealand waste... but we are also a government that wants to grow the economy and try and reduce compliance costs."

Last year a waste levy was implemented and Dr Smith said he was in the process of providing financial incentives for industry to improve recycling.

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