The Minister’s statement is interesting for his comment that:
“This approach is also consistent with the Government’s Bluegreen agenda of encouraging more environmentally friendly behaviour with financial incentive rather than through regulation or prohibition.
The Green Party also supports price signals, which is why we’ve pushed for a price on carbon for over a decade (but are still waiting). However, often regulation is also needed, for example to ensure that some firms do not free-ride on others’ good practices.
We were pleased to get National’s support for the Waste Minimisation Act last year. One major plank of this Act is product stewardship, where industry and government work together to take responsibility for a product when it becomes waste. The Act requires ‘priority products’ to be identified as the first ones that the Minister requires action on – and the Greens think plastic shopping bags are an obvious one. A product steward scheme can include pricing, but can be much broader and smarter than that.
As Green Party’s Waitakere spokesperson Kath Dewar said last week in a statement from the Waitakere City Council about their plan to eliminate plastic shopping bags in the city: “New Zealand consumes 1 billion plastic shopping bags every year, including an estimated 43.8 million in Waitakere City and that over 40,000 plastic check-out bags are dumped in New Zealand landfills every hour.” Despite positive steps by some major retailers, we still have a long way to go.
The Government is expected to release a discussion paper for public consultation tomorrow outlining its new waste targets, the products it sees as priorities, and funding criteria for the fund created by the waste levy that kicks in on 1 July this year. Watch this space!