Speech to the WasteMINZ conference in Auckland

  • Nick Smith


Thank you Paul, can I acknowledge your as Chair of WasteMinz.  Thanks for the invitation to open your conference for the second year in a row.  It's great to be here again and have the opportunity to acknowledge the work of the waste sector and make some important announcements. 

Good progress has been made by local government, business and the community over the past decade on waste management and minimisation in New Zealand.

Today I am launching the 2010 New Zealand Waste Strategy.  This strategy reflects the progress that has been made.  It sets a new direction for waste management and minimisation in this country. 

Much has changed in the waste sector since the launch of the 2002 strategy.  The sector has matured and advances in technology and thinking are making it easier to reduce waste.  Furthermore, the Waste Minimisation Act - passed in 2008 - provides a clear framework against which decisions can be made at a local level.  This has meant a prescriptive national strategy is no longer necessary to ensure good progress is made.

The strategy I am launching today promotes flexibility and innovation, and has two main goals:

  • Reducing the harmful effects of waste, and
  • Improving the efficiency of resource use.

It reflects this Government's belief that local government, business and communities must have flexibility to be innovative and find the most appropriate solutions for local problems.  Groups must be able to target effort appropriately if continued progress is to be made. 

We all know that what's appropriate in Auckland will, in most instances, differ from what's best in a small rural centre.

Waste Minimisation

Much progress has been made in the past 12 months, driven in part by the Waste Minimisation Act and the waste disposal levy, which has provided a much needed injection of funding to the sector.

Since the waste disposal levy was introduced, approximately $9 million has been distributed to territorial authorities.  Later this month, the Ministry for the Environment will write out cheques for a further $3 million. 

I look forward to seeing other innovative waste reducing initiatives as a result of this money.

Territorial authorities have a critical role to play in the successful implementation of the Waste Minimisation Act.  The importance of their role will increase as the 2012 deadline for the review of their waste management and minimisation plans draws nearer.

In addition to support for territorial authorities, funding for research and innovation is being made available to organisations through the Waste Minimisation Fund, which will fund 25 initiatives in this, its first year of operation. 

The Government is keen to see the waste sector take greater advantage of advances in science and technology that can minimise the impact of waste on the environment.  Of course, this objective aligns well with the theme of this year's conference - "The Value of Good Science".

Last week I announced $1.15 million in grants from the Waste Minimisation Fund for eDay 2010 and new e-waste processing facilities.

New Zealand needs to recycle more of the 80,000 tonnes of electronic waste that goes to landfill each year to recover resources and reduce pollution.

Our strategy is to support eDay 2010 to help co-ordinate collection and raise the profile of e-waste but also to fund a new initiative to ensure better recycling and processing of the waste.

The electronic waste from used computers, cellphones, printers, monitors and televisions has thousands of tonnes of recoverable lead, mercury, gold, cadmium and silver. For instance, there is an estimated 20,000 tonnes of lead in the 10 million cathode ray tubes in New Zealand's computer monitors and TVs.

The first grant of $750,000 was to the 2020 Communications Trust to run eDay on 6 November 2010 at more than 40 venues right across New Zealand.

eDay's popularity has grown exponentially and problems developed in 2008 and 2009 with management of the waste after it was collected.

This year we are engaging e-waste professionals to ensure best practice in recycling and in managing the residual waste.

The second grant of $400,000 is a joint venture between the RCN Group and the Community Recycling Network towards developing a nationwide network of 20 permanent depots for e-waste as well as recycling facilities in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

We need to move beyond just eDay to a permanent solution for New Zealand's electronic waste where we have the capacity to collect and recycle all year round.  This initiative enables us to provide a long-term solution to our electronic waste problem.

Today I am pleased to announce more funding from money under the Waste Minimisation Fund, for initiatives that use science to minimise waste going to landfill - Tyregone in Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Vermicomposting Project. 

Tyregone will receive $300,000 to expand operation of its pyrolysis plant, which converts tyres into carbon, steel, oil and gas.  Once expanded, the plant will process more than 2000 tonnes of tyres in the first year. 

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is to receive $100,000 to investigate expanding its vermicomposting facility so it can process a wider range of organic material, including wood waste from the Tasman and Carter Holt Harvey mills.

The Waste Minimisation Fund is also able to provide support for national scale initiatives.  And today, I am happy to announce that the Glass Packaging Forum will receive $1.6 million to increase the number of recycling bins and bottle banks across the country for the Rugby World Cup. 

I look forward to making further funding announcements over the coming weeks.  At the same time, I would like to encourage others with waste minimisation ideas that need development to apply for funding in the 2011 round when it opens early next year.

Product Stewardship

I have been pleased to see the progress made on product stewardship over the past year.  A year ago, I told you how the Government was keen to give industry the chance to step up to the challenge and develop effective, voluntary product stewardship schemes. 

I have been very impressed by the applications for accreditation.  During the year, I have been very happy to accredit Plasback's agricultural plastics recycling scheme and the Glass Packaging Forum's glass scheme. 

Today, I am pleased to announce the accreditation of two more product stewardship schemes.

First, the Agrecovery Foundation's scheme, which covers both containers and chemicals. 

The containers programme involves collection of plastic agrichemical containers from farms. These are processed to recover plastic resin for use in the manufacture of new plastic products.  In the programme's next year of operation, Agrecovery Foundation has set an ambitious target to recover 60 per cent of participating agrichemical companies' containers.

The chemicals programme provides for the nationwide collection and disposal of unwanted agrichemicals.  This will safely remove many hazardous substances from rural New Zealand properties.

Second, I am pleased to announce accreditation of the Refrigerant Recovery NZ Limited's product stewardship scheme. 

This scheme covers the collection and destruction of waste and outdated synthetic refrigerants used in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries.  These gases can be both ozone-depleting and greenhouse.  As a result, the scheme has an important role to play in reducing environmental harm caused by climate change.

I would like to invite representatives of the Agrecovery Foundation and Refrigerant Recovery NZ Limited to the stage to receive their certificate of accreditation.

I congratulate all those businesses and organisations participating in accredited product stewardship schemes.  I strongly encourage other industries to develop and implement schemes for waste products and submit applications to the Ministry for the Environment for accreditation. 

I have two other applications for accreditation that are under assessment.  I look forward to making a decision on these.

New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

A focus for the waste sector over the coming year will be working through the implications for waste disposal facility operators of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme regulations. 

Thanks to WasteMINZ and members of the Technical Advisory Group for helping to develop these regulations. 

The New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory reports significant reductions in emissions from landfills since 1990. The Emissions Trading Scheme and the Waste Minimisation Act will help continue this trend.

Martyn Pinckard from the Ministry for the Environment and Simmone Eldridge from Tonkin and Taylor will be talking in more detail about the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme later today.


There are many great things happening in the waste sector that are of benefit to New Zealand as a whole.  Today I have announced more government funding - through the Waste Minimisation Fund and payments to territorial authorities - to support innovation, and accredited two more voluntary product stewardship schemes. 

I have also announced the 2010 New Zealand Waste Strategy that through its flexibility, will foster innovation and help the waste sector make further progress.  You will note our focus on waste streams with the greatest harm - ag chemicals, e-waste, tyres, ag plastic - in grants and product stewardship, reflecting the new Government's priorities.

I am sure that at this conference, you will have the opportunity to share ideas and catch up with colleagues on the progress being made across your sector. 

Over the next year, my focus for the sector will be on the statutory review of the waste disposal levy, which must be completed by 1 July 2011.  I am currently consulting with the Waste Advisory Board on the framework for this review, which I intend to keep relatively narrow. With grants only just flowing from the levy, it will take somewhat longer to properly evaluate the benefits of the scheme.

I am sure you'll make great use of your time at the conference over the next three days.  Although we each have a different role to play, we are striving for a common outcome - reducing the environmental harm caused by waste and improving efficiency in the waste sector.

I now have great pleasure to declare the 2010 WasteMINZ conference open.