The Waste Minimisation Act (2008) provides a new legislative framework with new tools and responsibilities for solid waste management in New Zealand. This guide provides an overview of your responsibilities under the Act, with quick hyperlink references to the legislation and other useful information.
The passing of the Act places no immediate new obligations on households. However, you can expect to be involved in the new waste minimisation initiatives in a number of ways.
The Act provides a framework for product stewardship to reduce waste from products. Product stewardship means that producers, brand owners, importers, retailers, consumers and other parties take responsibility for the environmental effects of their products – from ‘cradle-to-grave’. The Minister for the Environment may declare some products to be ‘priority products’ and a product stewardship scheme will be required for that product. The Act sets out a procedure for government accreditation of both voluntary and mandatory product stewardship schemes.
Product stewardship is consistent with the ‘polluter pays’ principle by including the costs of a product’s environmental impact into the cost of the product. Without product stewardship, the costs of the environmental impact from a product are borne by society – ratepayers, taxpayers and the environment – rather than by the producer or consumer. The producer may choose to pass the cost on to the consumer to recover their costs.
You can assist new product stewardship initiatives by supporting accredited product stewardship schemes. You can do this by buying products that are part of a government accredited product stewardship scheme, and by using the appropriate collection or take-back service for the product stewardship system. By supporting accredited product stewardship schemes you can be assured that responsibility is being taken for the environmental impacts of that product.
To generate revenue to help communities and businesses address waste issues, the Act puts a levy on waste disposed of at landfill. The levy will increase the cost of waste disposal to recognise that disposal imposes costs on the environment, society and the economy.
Landfill operators will have to pay the levy based on the weight of material disposed at landfill, but they may pass this cost on to households and business. We anticipate the cost of waste disposal at municipal landfills to go up as operators pass on the cost of the levy.
Approximately half of the levy money will be allocated to territorial authorities to spend on implementing their waste management and minimisation plans. The remaining levy money (minus administration costs) will be allocated, through a fund, to waste minimisation projects (the Waste Minimisation Fund). Find out about the waste minimisation projects we fund by keeping an eye out for information in the media and updates once funding decisions are made.
If you haven’t done so already, you can perform a rubbish audit on your household rubbish and investigate alternative uses or destinations (rather than landfill) for your waste. Making these changes will help keep down the cost of your household waste disposal. Check out www.sustainability.govt.nz/rubbish for ideas on how you can reduce, reuse and recycle your household rubbish.
Territorial authorities will continue to have responsibility for waste regulation and some local disposal. You must adhere to any waste-related bylaws made by your territorial authority under the Act.
For more information about waste management please visit www.mfe.govt.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The material in this guide is of the nature of general information only, and neither purports nor intends to be professional legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure that this guide are as clear and accurate as possible at the time of publication, the Ministry for the Environment is not liable for decisions or actions taken as a result of information contained in, or omitted from, this guide.
Published in March 2009 by the Ministry for the Environment. Publication number: INFO 384