The way we create and manage waste in Aotearoa New Zealand is not sustainable. Most of the materials we use are disposed of in landfills, and our rate of disposal is increasing. These practices have contributed to making Aotearoa one of the highest generators of waste per person in the OECD.

In 2019, the waste sector contributed around 4 per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions and around 9.1 per cent of its biogenic methane emissions.

Taituarā has identified navigating the transition to a low waste society as one of the key transitions that councils will need to work on with their communities in our Navigating Critical 21st Century Transitions report.

While the Government has already taken some significant steps to lift New Zealand’s waste performance, and to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon circular economy, it’s clear that more needs to be done.

That’s why the Ministry for the Environment has recently released its Waste reduction work programme

The Waste reduction work programme sets out the work that the Ministry will lead to transform waste outcomes in Aotearoa.

MfE’s work programme has five main objectives:

  1. Building the foundations for a transformed waste system

  2. Expanding investment in the sector

  3. Introducing system-level change

  4. Addressing individual material streams and products

  5. Strengthening operational and compliance activity.

Individual workstreams sit underneath each of the objectives.

Some of the key work the Ministry for the Environment plans to deliver includes:

Development of a new waste strategy

This will guide our transformation to a low-carbon circular economy. The strategy will drive priorities, investment, performance and more coordination across central and local government, iwi/Māori and communities.

The Ministry for the Environment plans to consult on a draft strategy in late 2021, with publication of the strategy due in mid-2022.

Development of new legislation

The Government intends to develop new legislation to replace the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 and Litter Act 1979. The new legislation (a single, comprehensive Act) will create new powers to support the delivery of the new waste strategy, provide for a new waste disposal levy framework, and strengthen compliance tools.

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament in mid-2022, with select committee submissions and hearings in mid – late 2022. Enactment of the legislation is planned for early – mid 2023.

System-level changes

In late 2021 or early 2022 the Ministry for the Environment intends to consult publicly on whether the kerbside collection system could be standardised nationally to improve diversion rates, reduce consumer confusion and support higher-quality recyclables.

The Government is also investigating the establishment of a Container Return Scheme.

Taituarā will engage closely with this important work, and in particular consultations on the new waste strategy and waste legislation. If you are not already a member of our Waste Minimisation LGConnect Discussion, we encourage you to join to stay across updates on the Government’s waste reduction work and ways that you and your council can contribute.

How do I join a Discussion Group?