Trailblazing regulated stewardship in New Zealand
Ten years ago, we set out to create a product stewardship scheme which would not only keep tyres out of landfills and ditches but also create jobs and value for New Zealand.
We worked tirelessly with the industry and the Ministry for the Environment to create New Zealand’s first regulated product stewardship scheme.
And now, together, we’ve done it.
Today (Tuesday 21 June) we officially announced the start of Tyrewise, which will be the first stewardship scheme in the country with a regulated framework. It will start operating in late 2023. 3R Group has been involved as project managers from the very beginning and I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve put in.
Ten years is certainly a long time to get a stewardship scheme off the ground, but considering it spanned a change of government, a rapidly evolving sustainability landscape, and required unprecedented use of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, I think we can be very pleased with the outcome.
Tyrewise has long had the backing of eager industry members but came with the caveat of being a regulated scheme. Industry was understandably keen to create a level playing field and so it wasn’t until 2020, when tyres and five other product categories were declared priority products (a first for New Zealand), that we knew Tyrewise would get the chance to deliver the benefits we have long known are possible.
The declaration was followed by the accreditation of Tyrewise in November last year as the country’s first regulated product stewardship scheme. The nuts-and-bolts of working through the regulation process then began while a consultation was held for final input from industry and New Zealanders.
This got us to where we are now – ready to kick off regulated product stewardship for the first time in New Zealand.
As product stewardship experts this is hugely exciting. We have been involved with designing and delivering voluntary stewardship schemes for over a decade and have seen how beneficial they can be, but a regulated, nationwide scheme can achieve so much more.
The fact the country’s first regulated scheme is for a product such as end-of-life tyres (ELTs), which is abundant (6.5 million reach end of life a year), poses a risk to human and environmental health, and can be a valuable commodity, is all the more significant.
Currently ELTs are an unregulated product with ad-hoc recycling fees, a 40% recovery rate, and are all too often illegally dumped or stored in the environment. But through regulated stewardship we believe they will become a well-managed waste stream with an 80% or greater recovery rate and high value end uses.
For those who have followed or been part of the Tyrewise journey, the wait between being declared a priority product and getting off the ground as a functioning scheme may seem long. However, being the country’s first regulated scheme meant we have taken on a trailblazer role which other schemes will follow.
Working through the untested mechanisms of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 has been a steep learning curve for all involved. Fortunately, where we, and the Ministry, have found the Act difficult or unclear, there is opportunity to set a clearer path in the new waste legislation currently being developed.
For us, it has been just another hurdle to clear in this long and winding journey. I, for one, am proud of how resilient our team, and the industry and those at the Ministry who committed to work with us, have been.
Now we get to move from the design phase and put our collective plans into action. It is always an exciting part of developing any stewardship scheme. After all it’s – and I can’t image a better saying – where the rubber hits the road.