20 Aug 2018

Tyres pollution: Some collectors ignore disposal rules

10:04 am on 20 August 2018

Fees are already in place to ensure an environmentally friendly disposal of tyres but some collectors end up dumping them on others or into landfill, the Vehicle Imports Association boss says.

Old car tyres. (File)

Tyres are not always being disposed of correctly, an industry boss says. Photo: 123rf

Yesterday Eugenie Sage announced a work programme to tackle waste by looking at options to better manage waste going into landfills, how to improve gathering of data on waste and options to expand product stewardship schemes.

The Greens were asking the public whether the current levy of $10 per tonne on waste taken to landfills should be higher.

Vehicle Imports Association chief executive David Vinsen told Morning Report the government needed to declare end-of-life tyres a priority product under the product stewardship legislation to help solve the issue.

"As soon as they do that industry is ready to turn the switch and get on with it."

He said at the moment people who replace their tyres pay a $4 or $5 fee to the retailer for the collection and disposal of the tyre in a an environmentally friendly way.

However, that was not happening and instead it ended up being a battle between whoever was dumped on and the council, he said.

"[The tyres] get dumped in landfill or there's all sorts of worse rorts; they rent an empty warehouse and fill it up with tyres and then walk away and leave the poor owner to dispose of it. Or as they did in Waikato, they just dump it on some land and that the farmer is unaware of - and in one particular case well over a million tyres were stored on some farm property without the farmers' knowledge."

He said those cases of illegal dumping were "corruption and theft".

However, he said he was frustrated to hear of another working group, when work was already done by the last government under MP Nick Smith.

"We spent a lot of time and money on it - various associations and businesses. It wasn't an easy or comfortable initiative to get together.

"I cannot understand the need to go back and reinvent the wheel. It's all sitting ready to go. All they have to do is say 'yes, used tyres are a priority product' - which means a lot of legislative support comes around that definition."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told Morning Report that at this stage the commitment was a comprehensive plan which included extended to the levy to another 400 landfills.

"For far too long over 10 years there's been nothing really done in this space and New Zealanders are really concerned about that.

She said the party aimed to put some waste responsibility back on producers and manufacturers.

"It's about steering the world and the economy towards having responsibility for what you produce so that a levy would go into how do we would recycle and reuse it better and how do we want to support businesses who want to help us recycle things"

While some criticised the move saying it might lead to more illegal dumping, Ms Davidson said she was aware of those concerns too.

"I'm very aware of those perhaps unintended consequences ... that's why we have to look at carefully and come up with as robust a plan as possible to steer us away from those unintended consequences."

National Party leader Simon Bridges fields media questions before heading into the House.

National Party leader Simon Bridges says the Greens' commitment on waste levy is pretty vague at the moment. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Following on yesterday's announcement, National's Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson said in a press release that the "Greens have been forced to swallow a number of dead rats already".

"Now Labour and NZ First have sent them off to their annual conference with nothing new to announce but reviews and working groups," the press release read.

"A potential massive increase to the actual levy rate is just another tax which will hurt New Zealand households."

However, Mr Bridges told Morning Report his party was not against product stewardship but the commitment from the Greens was vague at the moment.

"You've got here some vague words about what they may or may not do, working groups to work out what may happen. Let's see what the detail is and we'll go from there.

"I'm making it clear to you though with the books as they are with the money this government has a legacy from hard work of New Zealanders I don't think they need any [more] taxes.

"At the moment, we've got $2.2 billion more. If they get their priorities right with the billions of dollars in taxes that they are levying currently, I don't see a need for them to have tier-tax."

When asked whether how this compared to taxpayers' money being used for an inquiry - which Mr Bridges had demanded - into a leak into his expenses, he said the two cases involved different proportions of sums.

"A small number of thousands of dollars on a investigation versus a tax nationwide - I'm sure many millions of dollars - are very different things," Mr Bridges said.

"We don't know ultimately what the sort of costs involved are".

However, he said that the inquiry was worth spending money on.

"I think ultimately New Zealanders will appreciate that it is important for Members of Parliament and, therefore ultimately, for them that we have faith in the system."

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