Thursday, July 18, 2024

Recycling plan won’t go to waste

The Government is taking steps to improve the recycling habits of New Zealanders – with three new proposals being put to the public.

“Every year New Zealand generates more than 17 million tonnes of waste and sends almost 13 million tonnes of that to landfill,” said Environment Minister, David Parker.

“We currently have inadequate rubbish collection and recycling systems. As a result, our recycling rates are low compared to other countries with better systems, and we have too much litter in our environment.

“Today I am asking New Zealanders to have their say on our ‘Transforming Recycling’ proposal to improve the way we recycle and deal with our rubbish. The proposals will help reduce litter, emissions and pressure on our environment.”

It is estimated that nationally only 28% of materials are recycled and the rest goes to landfill. By contrast, Germany, Austria and Wales have the highest recycling rates in the world, with over 50% of all waste being recycled.

“We are taking action that will make a real difference and want Kiwis to have their say,” Mr Parker said.

There are three connected proposals covered by the consultation.

The first, looks at improvements to the household kerbside recycling system, including access to food scrap collections.

“We’re going to make it simpler and easier for people to recycle right. Standardising kerbside recycling will reduce confusion and help businesses design packaging that is recyclable anywhere in New Zealand.”

“Food scraps make up more than a third of a typical household’s rubbish each week. When sent to landfill, they create greenhouse gas emissions.

“Providing access to household kerbside food scraps collections is a simple step to reduce emissions and return nutrients to the soil,” Minister Parker said.

The second proposal is for a container return scheme for beverages, to incentivise people to return empty drink containers in exchange for a small refundable deposit – deposit of 20 cents is being proposed.

“More than two billion drinks are sold every year in New Zealand. Less than half of these containers are recycled, meaning that over a billion containers end up as litter, are stockpiled, or sent to landfills every year.”

“With a container return scheme in place, we can increase our recycling rate for beverage containers to between 85% and 90%. 

“This will also result in increased supply of recovered materials for our onshore recycling systems and container manufacturers,” the Minister said.

Consistent with most overseas schemes, containers of fresh dairy milk would be exempt from the scheme. Unlike most drink containers, those for fresh milk already achieve very high recovery rates through kerbside recycling collections. However we will continue to investigate how recovery can be improved further.

The third part of the consultation focuses on diverting business food waste from landfill to reduce their carbon footprint. The food scraps can then be used to improve our soil or feed animals.

“New Zealand businesses generate 25% of all food waste that goes to landfill. Along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, separating out food scraps can help businesses identify ways to reduce food waste and save money.

“By 2030, we want all businesses and households to separate food scraps from their rubbish.”

Public feedback will help shape the final reform proposals, the Minister said.

“We want a future where everyone reduces waste, reuses, and recycles. We know New Zealanders want to do the right thing. With these proposals, we’re putting the right foundations in place to bring our recycling systems up to global standards.”

“I would also like to acknowledge the work done by former Green Party minister Eugenie Sage during the last term of government, when she achieved important progress in New Zealand’s waste management.”

Green MP, Eugenie Sage welcomed news of the proposals.

“These are exciting initiatives. We are changing the way we view waste. That benefits nature with less litter, more materials being re-used, and less climate pollution from landfill,” she said.

Consultation will run until Sunday, 8 May. The consultation document and online submission forms will be available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website: Transforming Recycling consultation document.

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