We produce more waste per person than many other OECD nations and New Zealand has been grappling with its waste management issue for some time now. To address this issue, the government has launched a new waste strategy called Te rautaki para, Waste Strategy, which prioritises circular economy and product stewardship.
This aligns with the concept of whakapapa and kaitiakitanga in Te Ao Māori - the connection of all living beings to the land and the responsibility to care for the environment and emphasising the importance of avoiding waste and promoting continuous regeneration.
Six principles are the foundation of the “Te Rautaki Para | Waste Strategy”:
Taking responsibility for how we manage and dispose of things,
Protecting and regenerating the natural environment,
Ensuring financial sustainability,
Applying the waste hierarchy preferences,
Delivering equitable and inclusive outcomes,
Thinking across systems, places, and generations.
The strategy has eight goals that it aims to achieve;
Strategic planning, regulatory, investment, and engagement.
A comprehensive national network of collection and circular management of products.
Responsibility and accountability for each of us.
Using fewer products, for a longer period - repairing, reusing, sharing, and repurposing items.
Resource recovery systems - Resource recovery systems are working efficiently for core materials and across all regions.
Recovering value - We must seek ways to recover any remaining value from residual waste, sustainably and without increasing emissions, before final disposal.
Emissions - Waste emissions are decreasing in line with our domestic and international commitments.
Contaminated land - Contaminated land is being remediated and managed to reduce waste and emissions and enhance the environment.
To achieve these goals, everyone will play a part - Individuals, business, and government.
Government will provide guidance and funding throughout the strategy. The strategy has three phases; the first phase focusing on establishing circular systems and transforming behaviours by 2030. By 2040, the circular economy should be expanding and becoming the norm, while by 2050, New Zealand should have a low-emission, low-waste circular economy.
Overall, the Te rautaki para waste strategy represents a significant step towards tackling waste management challenges in New Zealand. We all need to play our part to make it successful, it will not only benefit the environment but also the economy and well-being of New Zealanders.