28 Oct 2015

Ministry blasts report on NZ's environment record

6:31 pm on 28 October 2015

The Ministry for the Environment has blasted a report by the OECD on New Zealand's environmental record.

The new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gives New Zealand a poor environmental rating.

The verdict comes in its latest report; Environment at a Glance 2015.

Landfill, Timaru

New Zealand has the worst record on waste going to landfill, according to the report. Photo: Samuel Mann / CC BY 2.0

New Zealand is the worst performing of all 34 member states in the percentage of its municipal waste that goes into landfill; worse than Turkey and Mexico and far worse than most western European states.

But the Ministry for the Environment said the OECD had its facts wrong and had ignored information given to it almost a year ago.

It said it was not given the chance to check the report before it was published and planned to urgently follow up with the OECD.

It added that all 67 local authorities in New Zealand offered kerbside or drop-off recycling collection services, taking glass, metal, paper and plastics.

Current estimates of the landfill/recycling split is an estimated 43 percent of recycling and the remaining 57 percent in landfill.

The Ministry for the Environment also said there was a problem with incineration of waste, as practised in Europe.

It said some low temperature incineration was prohibited by New Zealand regulations and others methods had not proven economic.

The OECD gave New Zealand a poor mark for the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced not only per capita, but also relative to its economic production.

New Zealand's greenhouse gas intensity and its greenhouse gas per capita measurements were improving, but not as fast as some other countries, it reported.

Compared with most OECD countries New Zealand had less environmentally motivated taxation, it found.

On the plus side, New Zealand has 10 percent of its land set aside for national parks, behind only Iceland and Luxembourg.

In the wake of the report, the Labour Party said New Zealand needed to re-think its handling of waste

Labour's environment spokesperson, Megan Woods, said the OECD report highlighted the fact that changes needed to be made.

"We all have a part to play to think about the amount of waste that we are producing and what is going to landfill. But we also need to ensure that as a country that we have a good legislative framework around what we do with waste and how we reuse it, and what kind of recycling schemes we are going to commit to."

Ms Woods said mandatory recycling schemes should be put in place.

Environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the report was alarming.

"Almost all other OECD countries have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, and New Zealand is one of a handful of countries where emissions have grown - the report says by 7 percent."

Ms Sage said New Zealand was not cleaning up its economic production as fast as other countries.

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