The Zero Waste priorities for a new government in 2024

We have put together – ‘Practical steps to reduce waste and emissions’ – this short outline of key issues and talking points for our members makes it easy for you to tell the story about how the Government could support us all to do more. It focuses on 3 things that have a practical ask:

  • Implementing the Container Return Scheme
  • Expanding the resource recovery network and
  • Putting a Moratorium on Waste-to Energy Incineration.

If we are all on the same page we have a much better chance of kick starting some real action from the Government in 2024. These are the key issues we will be working on. We are always keen to hear from you if you have ideas about how to maximise our collective work.

  1. Implement the Container Return Scheme to help fund the transition

    We can’t run the circular economy on grants and subsidies. Product stewardship is the tool that creates the revenue flows we need to fund reuse and recycling systems. The Container Return Scheme is a good stepping stone towards large scale, nationwide product stewardship schemes. It is also a better way to recycle drink containers:
    • Everybody loves it – 98% of the responses to last year’s Government consultation were in support.
    • It works – high return rates, high quality recycling, low litter, proven result in many countries over decades.
    • It pays for itself – covers all the real costs of recycling so we don’t have to use rates budgets to subsidise drink container recycling.
    • It sets us up with infrastructure – establishes a nationwide network of take-back sites that can also be used by emerging Reuse and Refill business models.

  2. Invest to expand & establish Zero Waste Hubs because we need more places like these

    Zero Waste Network members have led the way for 30 years. Our model shows it is possible to use simple tools and systems to divert 70%+ of the material flowing into local transfer stations. These organisations are kaupapa driven and embedded in their local communities. They create good jobs and put their money back into local economies. Zero Waste Hubs (community resource recovery centres):
    • Deliver services communities want like reuse, repair, composting, resource recovery and recycling. They are ideal drop off points for the Container Return Scheme and future product stewardship schemes like electronic waste.
    • Combine engagement and education with service delivery. That means the households and businesses they work with come on a journey up the waste hierarchy so that reducing, reusing, recycling and composting become the norm.
    • Collaborate through national and local networks to share knowledge, skills and experience. Collective work on behaviour change supports the shift away from single use, towards reuse, durability, ‘Right to Repair’ and sharing models

  3. Focus on the real solutions to design waste and pollution out of our economy

    Real solutions follow the waste hierarchy: Shifting to a circular economy means we have to rethink and redesign products and business models. Legislation, regulation and policy need to incentivise reuse, refill, durability and repair in order to reduce single use packaging and create long-lasting, non-toxic products. Real solutions reduce waste and emissions: Waste-to-Energy Incineration is being proposed as an alternative to landfill but burning mixed solid waste will not help us reduce waste or emissions. Incineration is a false solution that would take us in the wrong direction because it’s just another disposal method. Burning or burying resources means we have to keep extracting new materials and energy to create more products which damages ecosystems and our climate. Investing in large scale incineration plants would lock Aotearoa into a linear throwaway future because they use long term contracts to secure a continuous supply of rubbish to burn. Our sector is working hard to reduce methane emissions from organic waste going to landfill. It doesn’t make any sense to start burning fossil fuel based plastic, which creates CO2 emissions and releases toxic pollutants, when New Zealand’s goal is 100% renewable electricity generation. Real solutions focus investment and innovation at the top of the Waste Hierarchy and clearly signal the direction of travel. They are safe for people, ecosystems and climate, viable because they build in ways to cover the real costs, accessible to everyone and regenerative because they leave things better than they were before.