Today Minister for Environment, Eugenie Sage announced that the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 will be reviewed by the Ministry for Environment this year.
This comes amid ongoing concern about the implications for New Zealand following last years decision by China to stop taking New Zealand waste. It also comes amid a growing awareness of the damage single use plastic is doing to the environment. The latter has become the subject of efforts to reduce single use coffee cups, plastic straws and other commonly used but rapidly wasted plastic products.
It has been admitted recently that considerable confusion about whether coffee cups could be recycled has resulted in huge numbers being sent to land fills and refuse stations when they could have been recycled. It comes as revelations emerge that 295 million coffee cups, including millions of recyclable cups wind up in the land fill each year. One cafe owner estimated regular coffee drinkers would save $150 per year by investing in a keep cup that can be used over and over.
It has also been acknowledged that New Zealanders are among the biggest creators of waste world wide. Each year the average New Zealander creates around 734 kilogrammes of waste.
New Zealand introduced the Waste Minimisation Act in 2008. In 2010 a review of it led to the substantial weakening of the Act. Little progress was made in the subsequent seven years between then and last years election on reducing the amount of waste created in New Zealand.
New Zealand also has the Waste Minimisation Strategy, which was introduced in 2002. Whilst some progress was made in reducing waste under it, the strategy had several flaws:
- Regional Councils were not – and are still not – required to take responsibility for waste management
- Supplying data is not a requirement for land fills or refuse stations, meaning little is known about what is actually disposed of in New Zealand or in what volume