Environmental targets may require regulation

  • Marie Hasler
Associate Minister for the Environment

Regulations are sometimes necessary to achieve environmental targets, the Associate Minister for the Environment the Hon Marie Hasler, told business and environmental representatives at a breakfast meeting today.

Speaking at a function to mark the half-way point of Target Zero Ms Hasler said, "it seems there is an increasing consensus on the need for mechanisms other than voluntary agreements to help meet environmental targets.

"In some instances, this may include regulations under the Resource Management Act or other relevant legislation.

"As you will know, this Government does not rush into regulation as a solution for every issue.

"As regulations involve some compliance and administration costs these must be balanced against the likely gains.

"But we must not stand back and count the cost to the environment when it becomes obvious regulations are necessary."

Ms Hasler said the recovery of used oil is an example of one programme which has not worked on a voluntary basis.

"Oil companies themselves have approached the Minister for the Environment and recommended a regulatory framework for the oil recovery programme.

"Prudent industries need to address waste management issues now. No one should be waiting until Government is forced to consider regulations as the only way to minimise waste and prevent spoiling our environment."

While congratulating those involved in reaching the half-way mark of Target Zero, Ms Hasler said there were new challenges ahead.

"For all of us the recession brings financial and economic pressures. It may be tempting to dismiss cleaner production as a luxury, something to be given up as the pressure bites.

"Instead, I hope you can use it as a tool. A tool to help make your businesses more efficient and more competitive.

"Pilot projects can achieve great results when they are well supported and the support continues. What happens when the project finishes, the project leader is reassigned and the team disbands?

"Unless core values are changed, staff involvement continues and line management is made accountable the gains or achievements can all too easily slip away."

Target Zero was launched in Christchurch on 20 August 1997 with a $325,000 grant from the Ministry for the environment. The project is the first multi-company cleaner-production project in New Zealand focusing on opportunities for pollution prevention both within and between companies.

Running until November 1999 Target Zero involves 23 companies in Hawkes Bay and Christchurch. Those involved have implemented cleaner production processes into their workplaces to work towards more efficient resource use, lower energy use, producing environmentally sound products and keeping waste to a minimum.