Graeme Norton of 3R Group is applauding Environment Minister Amy Adams for elevating discussions regarding how New Zealand can improve management of problematic waste.

A consultation document released today seeks feedback on whether intervention is required to improve outcomes for four waste streams – electrical equipment, tyres, agrichemicals and farm plastics, and refrigerants and other greenhouse gases. Each has been identified as having particularly high potential for environmental harm, combined with insufficient recycling or disposal options currently available.

Norton has first-hand experience in three of the four waste streams under discussion and was involved in research related to passing of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (WMA). This provides a framework for implementing product stewardship at a nationwide level, a likely method of government intervention.

“Stewardship shares responsibility for effective recycling or waste disposal across a product’s supply chain, rather than lumping the full cost on individual end-users or with councils. This provides scale for efficient collection and processing, and generally improves the environmental outcome significantly” says Norton.

3R currently operates PaintWise and Agrecovery Rural Recycling, both large-scale examples of successful stewardship-based recycling programmes however Norton says all programmes have natural limits under a voluntary framework.

“Our programmes are funded by organisations wanting to help their customers with recycling and disposal solutions. It’s a great stance to take but unless all players in a market participate, it provides an unbalanced playing field which can favour free-riders and undermine a programme’s effectiveness.

”

Norton believes that declaration of Priority Product status for selected waste streams under the WMA will correct these negative aspects without adopting a heavy handed or ‘one size fits all’ approach. It will also promote the concept of product stewardship to more consumers.

“All of our experience in this area suggests the best outcomes will come from industry-led, government supported initiatives. Large scale product stewardship activity can ideally fix the waste issues and stimulate economic development and new jobs at the same time. I can’t think of a better example of kick-starting the green economy we hear so much about.”

To download this article as a PDF click here.

Have your say – make a submission.