Hon Eugenie Sage: Backing innovative solutions to tackle waste

Opinion 03/05/2019

By the Honourbale Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment, Green Party List MP 

Like many New Zealanders I’m concerned about our mounting waste problem. That’s why I’m excited to announce a fresh round of funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund to back New Zealanders that have innovative solutions to tackle our waste problem.

I recently visited the Westland District Council’s Fox River landfill site that’s been in the news with the flooded Fox River causing waste from the landfill to spill into the river and onto beaches. There has been a massive clean-up effort.

We need to turn around New Zealand’s poor track record on waste.

As a nation, we’re great at coming up with great ideas to solve complex issues. The Fund involves inviting New Zealand businesses and community organisations to apply for funding for new projects that align with the fund’s strategic outcomes.

This year’s funding round focuses on projects which speed up the transition to an economy where products are designed to be fixed rather than ending up in the landfill, encourage product stewardship, support more resource recovery, or develop a sustainable plastics lifecycle.

I’m excited to see the new projects people come up with and be able to back innovative solutions with the funding available.

The Waste Minimisation Fund varies each year based on money raised from the Waste Levy. In 2017,  $9.1 million was approved to fund 15 projects, and in 2018, $16.3 million was granted across 49 projects.

The Waste Minimisation Fund recycles the revenue from the waste disposal levy and puts it towards projects that focus on solving waste problems at the source.

A recent example of the fund being put to use is the $381,000 project to enable farmers and growers to better deal with waste.

Waste on farms has traditionally been burned, buried or stock-piled which can have significant health risks and can cause air and water pollution. With the support of the fund, rural recycling programme Agrecovery will offer a one-stop-shop where farmers and growers can drop off waste such as agrichemicals, scrap metal, soft plastics, and used oil.

This project will see rural waste either recycled, or disposed of, in an efficient, safe and managed way.

The solutions backed by the Waste Minimisation Fund are just part of the wider work I’m leading to turn around New Zealand’s poor track record on waste.

As part of Government’s programme we’re exploring expanding the waste disposal levy to cover all landfills, investing more strategically in infrastructure and innovation, and having a greater focus on product stewardship for toxic tyres and e-waste.

The Honurable Eugenie Sage is Associate Minister for the Environment and Green Party List MP.