A significant quantity of legacy chemicals still sits on our rural properties.
Agrichemicals have been used in New Zealand for over 100 years. In the last 20 years central and local government have made various attempts to collect and dispose of unwanted chemicals, with varying levels of success. Despite these efforts and the introduction of a stewardship programme supported by a number of manufacturers, it is generally recognised that a significant quantity of legacy chemicals still sits on our rural properties, and volumes are increasing all the time due to industry intensification.
Client: Ministry for the Environment with funding via the Waste Minimisation Fund (WMA)
Brief: Make recommendations to maximise the effectiveness of product stewardship for agricultural chemicals and their containers in New Zealand
3R Role: Project manager and facilitator of the Agrichemicals Review Working Group
A permanent solution required
To address our international obligations, reduce the potential for harm, and reduce trade barriers, New Zealand needs credible on-going solutions for agrichemical collection and disposal.
With experience in stewardship in the agricultural sector, 3R recognised that an industry-wide working group was required to identify the scale of the problem and review existing disposal practices.
After 3R applied for funding through WMA, the Ministry for the Environment commissioned 3R to led the group which, in addition to scoping the problem, would review all previous regional disposal activity and existing stewardship practices for agrichemicals and their packaging. If existing solutions were found to be sufficiently ineffective, 3R and the working group were charged with making recommendations for a permanent, on-going stewardship solution on a nationwide, market-wide basis.
- Views on scale and responsibility for the problem varied wildly depending on the participant (supplier, applicator, user, collector or regulator) and their history with any previous disposal activity. Large amounts of anecdotal and partial information were presented on legacy volumes and locations but there was a lack of actual data.
- Awareness of the scope, purpose and funding for existing stewardship programmes was also largely misunderstood by most stakeholders.
- Stakeholder engagement by 3R was critical due to the widespread but unknown nature of the problem, ‘review apathy’, and a general fear of cost being placed on parties in a future stewardship model.
Solutions: Driven by 3R
- To moderate extreme views, fact-based evidence was gathered by 3R, and stakeholders were given an opportunity to also present their views and supporting data. This provided a secure footing for the review to move forward.
- Combined efforts by 3R, as project leaders, and an MfE project observer kept the review on track, ensuring that outcomes and recommendations were realistic, rather than theoretical, with the aim of minimising barriers to implementation.
- With first-hand knowledge of the Agrecovery Rural Recycling programme 3R was able to provide sound data on previous chemical collection activity, funding methods and the varying success of these. Our expertise in stewardship in agriculture also helped us gain useful feedback from existing participants (in the working group?), non-participants and users of Agrecovery.
- 3R brought the project to completion on schedule on 30th April 2013 with a final scoping report delivered to MfE.
- The main recommendation of the group was that MfE take a mandatory approach to the establishment of a comprehensive product stewardship scheme. A short summary of the project can be viewed here.
This project is currently awaiting a decision from MfE.