New Zealand has one of the worst records on waste in the OECD, but Hawke’s Bay’s 3R Group is helping to change that.

On Friday last week, the Government declared six categories as ‘priority products’ under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. The aim is to change how NZ manages our most problematic waste streams.

3R Group, based in Hastings but with national reach and clout, has been a significant player, with CE Adele Rose a speaker alongside Associate Minister of the Environment, Eugenie Sage at Friday’s announcement.

“Single-use plastic packaging, tyres, e-waste, synthetic refrigerant gases, agricultural plastics and agrichemicals have all been singled out for the harm the Government considers they cause in the environment when their disposal is not properly managed,” says Rose, who in her speech acknowledged that 3R Group was involved in some way with most of the six.

She says this is the single biggest announcement in terms of waste reduction and resource recovery in New Zealand history. “The announcement has been eagerly awaited by those in the waste management and recycling sector as it enacts powerful legislation already within the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 to deal with the country’s most problematic waste products.

3R Group has been working in product stewardship for 16 years, designing and managing schemes for paint and its packaging, tyres, food and beverage packaging, child car seats, and commercial and agricultural plastics and chemicals.

Product stewardship allows people and business to take responsibility for the products they make and sell at the end of their useful life, so that these products are recycled, reused or repurposed.

“Regulated product stewardship has the potential to transform New Zealand in terms of reducing waste. It will decrease our reliance on virgin materials and tackle elements of climate change, while stimulating job creation as new business opportunities are realised,” Rose says.

“It will also stimulate investment in onshore processing because a supply of recycled material will be assured.”

One of the ‘priority products’, synthetic refrigerant gas, is thousands times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. As such, managing these is rated as one of the best ways, worldwide, of tackling climate change, according 3R’s Darren Patterson, project manager of the group set up to design a regulated synthetic refrigerant gas stewardship scheme in anticipation of the last week’s announcement.

He says a scheme must be developed and accredited by Government as soon as possible. It must include recommendations to ensure mandatory participation across the industry participants – from those selling refrigerants or equipment, through to installers and those managing the gases at end of life.

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