The New Zealand Government has released a public consultation document to focus on reducing waste, including plastic packing and bottles, from entering landfills.

The consultation, ‘Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines’, offers new ways to tackle products that damage the environment.

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According to New Zealand Environment associate minister Eugenie Sage, introducing well-designed product stewardship schemes will allow manufacturers, sellers and consumers to support the government by taking responsibility to recover the materials and prevent them from ending up in landfills.

Sage added: “This is the first time the government has been serious about creating regulated, rather than voluntary, product stewardship schemes in New Zealand.

“Like other countries, New Zealand’s economy is based on a ‘take, make and dispose’ model, which treats nature and the resources it provides as ‘free’ and disposable.  Regulated product stewardship is a step towards changing that and to designing waste out of production.

“This is part of a longer-term goal of moving to a more efficient, low-emissions, sustainable and inclusive economy for New Zealand. Regulated product stewardship helps puts the responsibility for effective material and waste management on product manufacturers, importers, retailers and users, rather than on communities, councils, neighbourhoods and nature.”

The government has also proposed various priority product categories for regulated product stewardship schemes, including packaging such as beverage containers and plastic wrapping.

Other products mentioned in the consultation include tyres, electrical and electronic products, refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases, agrichemicals and their containers, as well as other farm plastics.

In addition, the consultation document proposes that the government work with business and other stakeholders to co-design a regulated product stewardship scheme for tyres.

Sage concluded: “Today’s proposal also presents potential economic benefits. Many products and materials presently lost to landfill could be recovered and reused throughout the economy creating new business opportunities and new jobs.

“One example is reprocessing ‘waste’ plastic bottles back into food packaging, which creates less need for imports on new plastic flake for bottle manufacture. Products that have reached the end of their life can be used to make something new, especially if they are designed better for reuse and recycling.

“There is strong industry, council and community support for the government to ‘level the playing field’ – ensure all participate, and create better incentives to reduce waste and diverting materials from landfills.”