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The targets in the New Zealand Waste Strategy: Towards zero waste and a sustainable New Zealand (MfE, 2002) established national priorities for waste minimisation and management. Some targets have been achieved, and others could not be achieved due to lack of baseline information or lack of a legislative mechanism. We propose to replace the 30 existing targets with 14 specific, high-level targets that reflect the future direction for waste minimisation and management, and take account of the tools and responsibilities under the new Waste Minimisation Act 2008.
The revised targets aim to address the following problems identified with waste:
inefficient use of materials and energy
environmental effects of waste disposal
insufficient information on waste generation, diversion and disposal.
An update of the Strategy, incorporating revised targets, will be issued in 2009. We propose to retain the Strategy’s vision, goals and principles (outlined in the previous section). Progress against revised targets will be reviewed in 2014 and the whole Strategy will be reviewed again in 2017. If any regulations are required in the future to implement the proposed targets, the Ministry will consult at that time with those affected, and assess the costs and benefits of the regulatory proposals.
We want your feedback on each of the proposed new targets for the New Zealand Waste Strategy.
As the Act requires territorial authorities to have regard to the Strategy when preparing or revising waste management and minimisation plans, its targets need to give them a clear and useful framework. The time is right, as councils must review existing plans by 2012, and many intend to review their plans this year.
The 2006 review of progress (MfE, 2007a) found that the following targets had been achieved:
providing recycling schemes
business waste minimisation programmes and producer responsibility programmes
baseline solid waste surveys
a policy framework for hazardous waste management
full cost recovery of waste disposal
closure of substandard landfills and wastewater treatment facilities.
Good progress was made towards targets relating to local authority procedures and reporting of waste minimisation and management, and the recovery and/or appropriate disposal of hazardous waste.
However, many of the remaining targets relating to collecting information on waste and resource recovery were not achieved. Other targets could not be achieved because there was insufficient information available to assess progress against the target, or no legislative basis.
The 2006 review recommended that the Ministry revise the targets to remove those that are out of date, unclear, not measurable or not feasible. As well, both the Ministry review and the OECD environmental performance review (OECD, 2007) found a need for improvements in waste monitoring and reporting.
The proposed targets cover the existing priority waste streams and issues, together with new monitoring and reporting targets. The targets are grouped as follows, and each is explained below:
total waste disposed of
construction and demolition waste
monitoring and reporting.
Targets identify what needs to be achieved as a priority. They provide steps to address the inefficient use of resources and the pollution of air, water and soil, and the generation of greenhouse gases resulting from waste.
We have historic data on total waste disposed of to landfill. From July 2009, more robust data on total waste tonnage will be collected when the waste levy is imposed. This will enable us to set a 2010 baseline for total waste deposited to landfill.
Information on the composition of waste to landfill is needed so we can identify and address specific waste streams.
Target 1, the waste disposal target, is a proxy for waste minimisation, because we do not have sufficient information on the quantities of waste generated to set or monitor a reduction target. The effect of population growth is accounted for in the target by having a per capita measure. Other factors that may affect quantities of waste include changes in economic growth and natural disasters creating large one-off amounts of waste. These factors will also need to be taken into account in assessing trends in waste reduction.
Target 1: By 2015, reduce the quantity of waste (tonnes) disposed to landfill per person per year by 20 per cent relative to an established 2010 baseline.
The waste composition target focuses on gathering information to inform future work on waste reduction. Proposed regulations to collect information on the composition of waste to landfills are discussed in part 4.
Target 2: By 2010, have a system in place for the ongoing monitoring of the composition of waste to landfill.
Organic waste makes up about a quarter of waste disposed of at municipal landfills (Waste Not Consulting, Unpublished). Organic waste produces leachate and greenhouse gases. There is good potential for beneficial use, such as composting, and for reducing the production of organic waste.
To support the waste reduction and the recycling of organic waste, we need robust information on the composition of organic waste, current recycling, and the quantities disposed of. Current information available is largely derived from selected surveys of solid waste at just four landfills and a few local surveys.
The target focuses on collecting information on organic waste so we can monitor the success of initiatives and in the future set quantitative targets for organic wastes.
Target 3: By 2012, have a system in place for the ongoing monitoring of the composition of organic waste, the amount disposed of at landfills and diverted from the waste stream.
Construction and demolition waste is a significant component of the waste stream. It represents about a quarter of waste disposed of at landfills (Waste Not Consulting, Unpublished.) In addition, construction and demolition waste makes up almost all waste disposed of at cleanfills (sites which accept only inert material such as soil, concrete and rubble). The volume of waste disposed of in cleanfills is estimated to be 2.7–3.7 million tonnes per year, similar to the total volume of waste disposed of to landfills. Construction and demolition waste represents an inefficient use of resources, and there is good potential for beneficial reuse and reducing the volumes of waste generated. One example is the reuse of crushed concrete.
To support the minimisation of construction and demolition waste, we need robust information on construction and demolition waste production and disposal. Estimates of the tonnage of construction and demolition waste disposed of at cleanfills are based on very little hard data. While larger cleanfills probably require resource consents, many small cleanfills are permitted activities in regional and district plans and therefore are not monitored by councils.
The target focuses on collecting information on construction and demolition waste so that in the future quantitative targets for waste minimisation and disposal can be set.
Target 4: By 2012, have a system in place for the ongoing monitoring of the generation and composition of construction and demolition waste, the amount diverted from the waste stream and the amount disposed of.
Hazardous waste poses a risk to people and the environment. Hazardous waste should be reduced at source, and then residual waste effectively managed.
Information on hazardous waste is incomplete. A small proportion, mainly liquid waste, is tracked through WasteTRACK, a tracking scheme for hazardous wastes. More robust information is required before quantitative targets for waste reduction and management can be set.
The proposed targets therefore focus on establishing a tracking system, on ensuring that standards are met, and on using product stewardship schemes to deal with hazardous products and waste. The priorities for product stewardship are further considered in Part 2 of this discussion document.
Target 5: By 2012, the Ministry for the Environment will have established a national tracking system for all hazardous waste.
Target 6: By 2011, the Ministry for the Environment will have investigated the need for, and propose if warranted, regulatory standards for storage, transport, recycling, recovery, treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes.
Target 7: By 2012, specific industries will develop at least three accredited product stewardship schemes that increase the recovery or recycling of the hazardous components of waste.
Target 8: By 2014, specific industries will develop at least two other accredited product stewardship schemes that result in a reduction in hazardous substance production at source.
Contaminated land poses a risk to people and the environment. In addition to posing health risks to land users, some sites produce leachate which contaminates water bodies. It is important to identify and record these sites so they can be investigated and, if necessary, remediated and/or the risk managed.
Information on contaminated land is incomplete. Regional councils have made good progress in assessing and remediating contaminated sites, but there is still a need for better information and better systems to record and report this information. One of the proposed contaminated land targets aims to ensure that good information on contaminated sites is available through regional councils.
The proposed targets focus attention on a number of high-risk sites around the country and the progress councils have made to manage and/or remediate them. Criteria for determining high risk sites include the toxicity of the contaminant, likely quantity of the contaminant in the site, and proximity to parts of the environment and people that could be harmed. This screening and management and remediation work is an ongoing task that regional councils have already begun throughout the country.
Target 9: By 2015, regional councils will have established satisfactory systems to record information on contaminated sites and will have assessed which sites pose a high environmental risk.
Target 10: By 2020, regional councils will have investigated all contaminated sites identified by 2015 as high risk, and will be implementing an action plan for their management and/or remediation.
Targets identify priorities and clear milestones that need to be achieved if we are to avoid or reduce harm from contamination of land and water; nuisance from odour, dust, birds, vermin and wind-blown waste; and release of potent greenhouse gases.
We currently have information regarding the number of municipal landfill sites, wastewater treatment facilities, and larger cleanfills, industrial waste disposal sites and other disposal sites around the country. Information on environmental management of municipal landfills is collected through Ministry landfill surveys. The location of other disposal sites and the extent to which they follow best practice is not well documented nationally, although regional councils collect information on some sites through resource consent requirements.
Best practice guidelines are available for all types of disposal facilities and a national environmental standard is being developed for on-site wastewater treatment systems.
The proposed targets will help track management practices at these facilities and ensure residual wastes are managed, treated and disposed of at facilities to minimise environmental effects and protect natural resources.
Target 11: By 2015, all waste disposal facilities (including wastewater treatment plants, landfills, cleanfills and onsite wastewater systems) will be meeting existing regulatory standards and will be consented if this is a requirement.
Target 12: By 2010, the Ministry for the Environment will assess the need for a national environmental standard addressing environmental management of solid waste disposal facilities.
Targets for gathering information are needed to guide future action on waste and to monitor the effectiveness of actions being taken now. Targets for information also address the Ministry’s obligations to monitor implementation of aspects of the Waste Minimisation Act.
More knowledge is needed about waste, particularly about material diverted from the waste stream, and waste reduction at source. Short-term information collection targets relating to specific Strategy areas are proposed above – composition of waste disposed of to landfill (target 2), specific waste streams (targets 3 and 4), and hazardous waste (target 5). They support targets 13 and 14 below, which deal with longer term information requirements.
The review of progress against the Strategy targets (MfE, 2007a) and the OECD review (OECD, 2007) both recommended improving and standardising waste data collection, monitoring and reporting. The Act requires the Ministry to measure the effectiveness of the waste levy.
Target 13 addresses collecting data on the composition of waste disposed of at landfills. Better information on waste disposed of to cleanfills and industrial landfills will be needed to measure the effectiveness of the levy.
Target 13: By 2012, the Ministry for the Environment will have implemented a waste monitoring and reporting programme to generate consistent data on national waste streams including waste to cleanfills and other disposal sites (eg, industrial landfills).
Little information is available on the quantities of waste diverted from the waste stream, or the effectiveness of waste minimisation through efficient production. For many topics, information is based on a single survey carried out in 2006 to review progress against the New Zealand Waste Strategy targets (MfE, 2007a). However, collecting this information nationally would be prohibitively expensive.
Target 14 therefore aims to capitalise on information collected by local authorities on waste generation, collection and disposal to support their waste management and minimisation plans. This information is reported through a variety of ways such as annual reports, long-term council community plans and specific environmental reports. Target 14 aims to provide a national assessment of waste issues by collecting this information in a consistent way, against consistent categories, and reporting it to the Ministry on a regular basis.
Target 14: By 2012, the Ministry for the Environment will work with local authorities to develop a national reporting template that councils will use to report to the Ministry on progress against their waste management and minimisation plans and other waste-related activities.
Use the following questions to guide your feedback on the proposed targets. You do not have to answer every question or discuss every target.
What is your view on each of the 14 proposed targets?
Is the timeframe for achieving each proposed target realistic?