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Leadership on waste is welcome

Opinion Piece

At its AGM and conference this week, Local Government New Zealand voted to support several proposals to tackle recycling and waste problems, including calling for strong Government leadership.

I welcome local government’s support and leadership on the pressing issue of waste reduction, and I acknowledge that work is well under way in the Ministry for the Environment in the areas identified by LGNZ.

There are challenges for New Zealand with this issue, however sending our waste overseas is not the answer.

Government funds from water levies on landfills are being used to invest in projects to reduce waste volumes and increase our domestic processing capacity.

It is great to see firms such as one in Lower Hutt, Flight Recycling, coming up with solutions to recycle plastic product. Onshore processing options are a must and there is funding available through the Waste Minimisation Fund to back projects such as this one. There is also potential for local business and employment opportunities through projects like this.

It is encouraging that a taskforce has been set up in the Ministry for the Environment to work alongside councils and recycling businesses and processors. One of its first actions is an urgent review of our collection and processing services for recyclables.

We know single-use plastic bags are a problem, with an estimated 1.5 billion plastic bags used each year in New Zealand. It is unacceptable to have our precious waters, land and wildlife of the East Coast decimated by these products, and it is long past time something was done about it.

I commend councils, businesses and communities for their practical commitment to phasing out single-use plastic bags and straws. All of the local groups who do such fabulous work advocating, supporting and labouring for a plastic-free Tairawhiti do not go unnoticed.

How the Government intends to deal with single-use plastic bags will be announced in coming months.

Kiri Allan, Labour list MP