As local councils grapple with the litter left behind by holiday makers the National Party is calling for stiffer penalties for people caught illegally dumping rubbish.
“Yesterday it was revealed that $2.4 million was spent among 30 local councils on clearing illegally dumped rubbish in 2016. The total cost for all 78 councils would be even higher. This is money that could be better spent on things like roads and parks for the community,” National Party Environment Spokesperson Scott Simpson says.
“These councils and communities are constantly dealing with the mess left behind by those who would rather litter our countryside than dispose of their rubbish legally, with the problem particularly bad at the end of the holiday season.
“New Zealanders are rightly proud of our environment and while the overwhelming majority do the right thing, it is spoiled by those who refuse to.
“The National Party wants to find the best solutions to make sure everyone disposes of their waste responsibly, including those who fail to do so are held to account.
“That’s why I have sponsored a Member’s Bill to increase the maximum fine for those caught littering from $400 to $1000.
“We think there should be a stronger deterrent to littering so we can help councils and communities keep our streets and environment cleaner.
“This builds on National’s previous efforts to curb littering which included the ‘Do the Right Thing’ anti-littering campaign and better monitoring of littering so we knew where more effort was needed.
“Fines are just one part of the solution but, combined with working with councils and changing people’s attitudes we believe we can reduce the amount of litter left behind and ensure our environment looks better, our wildlife is better protected and our clean green reputation is upheld.”
National Party Environment Spokesperson Scott Simpson has welcomed the Government’s confirmation it will continue with the previous Government’s ban on microbeads.
“Microbeads pose a high risk to our aquatic and marine environments. They are too small to retrieve or recycle, do not biodegrade and are mistaken by marine life for food, causing long-term damage.
“The previous Government announced in August that microbeads would be banned early next year and I am pleased to see the new Government stick to that pledge.
“This ban is part of a global initiative to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in oceans, following similar initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and Australia.
“The previous National-led Government had a strong track record of taking practical steps to improve New Zealand’s natural environment and I look forward to seeing the new Government build on those efforts.”
Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson has congratulated Countdown and New World supermarkets for taking an industry-led response to combat the usage of single-use plastic bags.
Countdown recently announced that single-use plastic carrier bags will be phased out from their stores and online shopping by the end of 2018, and New World has today announced that they will aim to phase out single use plastic bags by the end of 2018 as well through measures such as the introduction of a voluntary 10 cent levy on single-use plastic bags.
“The Government encourages voluntary approaches by businesses and communities that promote reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering resources. Both initiatives announced by Countdown and New World highlight that industry has the ability and determination to improve environmental outcomes in New Zealand,” Mr Simpson says.
Mr Simpson has met with representatives from local government, industry, business, and communities to identify options to reduce plastic bag consumption.
“I am pleased with the progress that has been made since I became Associate Environment Minister. Typically most cost effective and efficient solutions are industry lead. These announcements show the sector can move voluntarily without the need for heavy-handed regulation.
“By encouraging behaviour change and increasing infrastructure and services to support recycling, I believe we will continue to see plastic waste minimisation in New Zealand. I encourage all New Zealand businesses to follow the leadership of these supermarkets and take up the opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle and promote environmentally friendly behaviours.”
A business initiative that safely disposes of hazardous unwanted refrigerants has had its accreditation as a ‘product stewardship scheme’ extended by the Government, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.
Mr Simpson met with representatives of the Trust for the Destruction of Synthetic Refrigerants to congratulate them on the success their initiative, Refrigerant Recovery, has achieved in safely disposing of hazardous unwanted refrigerants.
Refrigerant Recovery collects unwanted man-made refrigerants from New Zealand’s refrigeration and air conditioning industries. Refrigerants from around the country are shipped to Australia where they are safely destroyed at high temperatures through a process of plasma conversion. The process is highly efficient and produces virtually no emissions.
“Refrigerant Recovery helps to reduce the risk of hazardous compounds such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) entering the environment. If these chemicals get into the environment they damage the earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to global warming. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases that may be tens of thousands of times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” Mr Simpson says.
“By safely and sustainably disposing of hazardous chemicals, Refrigerant Recovery is helping to mitigate climate change and restore the ozone layer.”
Refrigerant Recovery is also helping New Zealand to meet its international obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Under the Climate Change Response Act 1996, New Zealand has been phasing out the import of CFCs and HCFCs into the country. HFCs will be next on the agenda, and the Ministry for the Environment recently closed a consultation round on how to phase down HFCs in a response to the recently agreed Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
In 2010, the Government accredited Refrigerant Recovery for seven years as a product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. Refrigerant Recovery’s reaccreditation for the next seven years means that the Minister has recognised the scheme’s important contribution to reducing the environmental harms associated with disposing of man-made refrigerants.
Product stewardship describes the process by which producers and suppliers take responsibility for their products throughout their entire lifecycle, such as by reusing and recycling products.
A nationwide programme to recycle agricultural plastics and dispose of agrichemicals has had its status as a ‘product stewardship scheme’ extended by the Government, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today
Mr Simpson met with representatives of Agrecovery to formally reaccredit them for another seven years as a product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act.
Agrecovery collects unwanted chemical drums and containers from agricultural brand owners throughout New Zealand. The scheme is widely supported by farmers, growers, local government and agrichemical and dairy hygiene companies.
Drums are collected by contractors and reprocessed into new plastic products, such as covers for underground cables. This provides an alternative to sending drums and containers to landfill, or burning or burying them on farm.
“By providing an alternative to disposing of waste on farm, Agrecovery is preventing harmful environmental impacts associated with farm burning and burial, such as the leaching of chemicals into waterways and the escape of hazardous dioxins into the atmosphere,” Mr Simpson says.
“Agrecovery also collects and appropriately disposes of unwanted agrichemicals, some of which could cause significant harm to ecosystems were they to enter the food chain. In this way, the scheme also helps New Zealand meet its international environmental obligations on reducing and, where feasible, ultimately eliminating the release of dioxins.”
In 2010, Agrecovery was accredited by Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith as a product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. This means that Agrecovery has been recognised for its work in promoting waste minimisation and reducing environmental harms from disposing of waste.
Product stewardship describes the process by which producers and suppliers of products take responsibility for their products throughout their entire lifecycle, such as by reusing and recycling products.
“Agrecovery has been achieving very pleasing results in recycling plastic and disposing of harmful agrichemicals. The scheme has recovered large volumes of unwanted products and it has built up strong partnerships within the agricultural industry. We can anticipate good results from Agrecovery going forwards.”
The next round of government’s Community Environment Fund is now open for applications, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson says.
"The Community Environment Fund helps community groups all over the country initiate practical programmes that will improve New Zealand's environment. If you’ve got a great idea for an environmental project and need funding support, you should be preparing your application now,” Mr Simpson says.
The Community Environment Fund empowers New Zealanders to take environmental action by funding projects that:
• strengthen environmental partnerships
• raise environmental awareness
• encourage participation in environmental initiatives in the community.
“Since it was set up in 2010, the Community Environment Fund has awarded over $12 million in funding support to more than 85 projects across New Zealand.
"The Community Environment Fund sits alongside the more specialist Waste Minimisation Fund of $13 million a year, the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund of $600,000 a year, the Contaminated Site Remediation Fund of $2.63 million a year and the Freshwater Improvement Fund.”
Applications close on 14 September. More information about the Community Environment Fund and the application form and guidance can be accessed at: www.mfe.govt.nz/more/funding/community-environment-fund/funding-and-application-process.
New Zealand has signed up to the International Open Data Charter, in a move to help drive innovation, support public accountability, and encourage engagement with government, Statistics Minister Scott Simpson has announced.
“The Government holds a vast amount of valuable data on behalf of New Zealanders. Open government data is non-personal, unclassified and non-confidential, and is freely available to anyone to use and share. Personal, confidential, and classified data remain protected,” Mr Simpson says.
“New Zealand has joined 17 countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, in confirming its commitment to the practice of openness in government. As well as meeting increased user demand for open data to drive innovation, this will ensure we are accountable, transparent, and resilient in our use of data.”
The International Open Data Charter is a non-binding agreement with six principles and supporting actions, mandating that data should be:Always open unless there is a good reason not to be (‘open by default’) Timely and comprehensive Accessible and useable Comparable and use standardised formats For improved governance and citizen engagement For inclusive development and innovation.
“Supporting the Government priority for data, a key objective of signing up to the Charter is to ensure Government-held data is used to help achieve better outcomes for New Zealanders, through data-driven innovation, informed decision-making and evidence-based policy.”
Stats NZ, through its Government Statistician and Chief Executive, is responsible for the implementation of the Open Data Charter principles.
The sale and manufacture of wash-off products containing plastic microbeads will be banned in New Zealand earlier than previously expected, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.
“Microbeads pose a high risk to our aquatic and marine environments. They are too small to retrieve or recycle, do not biodegrade, and are mistaken by marine life for food, causing long-term damage to marine animals,” Mr Simpson says.
The ban will take effect six months after World Trade Organisation notification, which will take place when the regulations are gazetted in November. Microbeads will be fully banned in New Zealand by May 2018.
“We consulted in January 2017 on a proposal to ban microbeads in personal care products like facial cleansers and toothpastes. We received over 16,000 submissions that all supported a ban. Many submitters urged the Government to broaden the scope of the proposed ban to include other products containing microbeads.
“In response, we have widened the scope of the ban to include all ‘wash-off’ products for visual appearance, exfoliating, cleansing or abrasive cleaning purposes that contain plastic microbeads. As well as personal care products, this includes household, car or other cleaning products.
“Foodstuffs have already removed products with plastic microbeads from their shelves. Major manufacturers are also phasing out plastic microbead ingredients.
“This ban is part of a global initiative to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in oceans. The New Zealand ban parallels similar initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and Australia to ban or phase out plastic microbeads in products.
“New Zealand is a small consumer of plastic microbead products by international comparison but this initiative is important for maintaining New Zealand’s good name in marine stewardship. We have responsibility for one of the largest areas of ocean, we have one of the best fishery management systems, we are leading with conservation measures like the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area and this initiative on microbeads will enhance our clean, green reputation.”
Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson today announced a Waste Minimisation Fund grant of nearly $55,000 to Tauranga-based Beyond the Bin to help turn its event waste reduction workshop into a free online e-course consisting of a series of 10 short videos.
“We all love to go to them – outdoor concerts, festivals, sports events – but large community events like these can create a mountain of waste,” Mr Simpson says.
Made by and for event organisers, the Beyond the Bin online videos will feature practical examples of how waste diversion can work at large events. The videos are designed to increase engagement with event waste-minimisation practices, and to inspire event organisers and food vendors to aspire to ‘zero waste’.
Started in 2015, Beyond the Bin is a small and dedicated social enterprise team passionate about diverting waste from landfill. Its goal is for 80 per cent of all New Zealand events to be composting their waste in the near future.
Beyond the Bin has worked with some of New Zealand’s and Australia’s largest events, developing zero waste initiatives, working on the ground in waste operations and managing big crews of volunteers. It is the only dedicated event waste training organisation in New Zealand.
“Poorly managed event waste results in litter on the ground, harm to the environment and vast quantities of potentially recoverable waste sent to landfill. Minimising the waste footprint, can improve the experience; zero-waste events give people pride in their events.”
The government’s Waste Minimisation Fund was established in 2009 and is funded by a levy of $10 per tonne charged on waste disposed of at landfills. Over $80 million has been awarded to more than 130 projects to date.
For more information about Beyond the Bin visit: www.beyondthebin.org.nz
For more information on the Waste Minimisation Fund visit http://www.mfe.govt.nz/more/funding/waste-minimisation-fund/about-waste-minimisation-fund
A plastics processing facility in Lower Hutt now has the capacity to turn over 200 million plastic drink bottles a year into high grade food-safe packaging, thanks to a $4 million Government grant.
The facility was today opened by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Scott Simpson.
“This new plastics processing facility is an important part of the Government’s programme of building New Zealand’s recycling infrastructure. We are encouraging Councils and the public to do more to recycle plastics like soft drink bottles and fruit and vegetable punnets, but we also need the facilities in New Zealand to be able to remanufacture them into usable products,” Dr Smith says.
“The significance of this project and the Government’s $4 million investment is for the first time having the capacity to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into food safe packaging. This high-tech, onshore recycling solution will mean greater employment in New Zealand, less energy used in transport and a reduction in the importation of virgin PET plastics for manufacturing.
“China recently announced a ban on importing waste and recyclables from other countries, including New Zealand. This will reduce end markets for our recyclables, and makes it even more important that we are able to recycle on shore. Flight Plastics will be able to recycle 6000 tonnes of the 8000 tonnes of PET plastic collected for recycling each year in New Zealand.
“As a country we need to be thinking smarter about ways to reduce our waste, and this facility will provide a fundamental change in the way plastic waste is managed,” Mr Simpson says.
“It is pleasing to be able to back an innovative project such as this, which shows Kiwi ingenuity is able to develop practical ideas which enhance our clean, green image.
“The expense of new infrastructure, as well as cost of getting products from one place to another for recycling, has sometimes limited opportunities for on-shore economic development in this space. This is where our Waste Minimisation Fund shows its strengths. The Government’s dedicated fund, created through a levy on waste disposed of at landfills, is available to support these kinds of projects.”
The Waste Minimisation Fund provides financial support to projects that reduce environmental harm and provide social, economic and cultural benefits. It is funded from a levy introduced by the National-led Government in 2009, which is charged on waste disposed of at landfills to discourage waste and to fund recycling initiatives. More than $80 million has been awarded to more than 130 projects to date.