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To: Minister for the Environment, Associate Ministers for the Environment
Reduce waste in New Zealand
Dear Minister/Associate Ministers
I call on the Minister for Environment and Associate Ministers for the Environment to undertake a review of the New Zealand Waste Management Strategy with a view to implementing recommendations as a matter of priority.
It has been noted that New Zealand lacks a comprehensive management framework for a problem that grows in literal weight in our landfills by the day.
Therefore I want the Minister and Associate Ministers to:
1) Give priority to the review announced by the Minister of the Waste Minimisation Act
2) Review New Zealand Waste Strategy and overhaul as appropriate
3) Make Regional Councils responsible for regional waste management and reduction
Why is this important?
On 01 January 2018 a Chinese ban on New Zealand waste imports came into force . Aside from meaning thousands of tons more waste either has to go to landfills or be processed here, it brings the spotlight onto our rather poor efforts at recycling, and reducing waste.
It has been noted that New Zealand is lacking an up to date strategy fit to deal with the waste issue confronting New Zealand in 2018. A strategy exists, but it is out of date and the Associate Minister for Environment, Eugenie Sage, has acknowledged this .
A few days before Christmas, the United Nations criticized our handling of electronic waste. The absence of any significant measures to reduce waste being introduced by the previous Government, means potentially 9 years have passed when New Zealand could have been acting on our growing waste problem.
One of the most dangerous waste forms which has been recently highlighted is e-waste. This is waste computer hardware - mouses, keyboards, screens, printers, CPU's, speakers, and so forth - as well as cellphones, microwaves, televisions, alarm clocks, smoke alarms, iPads, the radio systems from cars, sound systems and so on. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) singled out New Zealand and Australia just before Christmas to say together we produce the highest volumes of e-waste in the world while noting we have among the lowest documented rates for recycling .
Here is a list of every day devices and some of the toxic elements in them:
SMARTPHONES: Lithium (battery), Silicon (screen), Boron, Antimony, Neodymium, Praesodymium
FLAT SCREEN TV: Neon, Xenon
SMOKE DETECTOR: Americium
LAPTOP/DESKTOP: Beryllium, Lead, Mercury, Chromium
COMPACT DISC: Aluminium
DVD PLAYER: Silicon, Aluminium
BATTERIES: Lithium, Cadmium
There are substantial and long lasting gains to be had that extend beyond a healthier environment. These gains also include healthier soils, water, vegetation and atmosphere. There will be less risk of contaminants leaching into ground water.
Economic benefits exist too as a demand for parts, valuable metals and so forth can be extracted and reused with some potential for job creation to enable this work.
So let us have this necessary conversation about an out of date framework. Let us get the appropriate framework into place and let us tackle a problem that could rubbish our reputation as clean and green.
You may have read "The Lorax", a simple yet brilliant kids story about how a cartoon figure who stood up for the truffler trees, as one by one they were all cut down to make "thneeds". The environmental theme present in the story which you can see below is as important today as it was when the movie was made.