The Government wasted time and money after “puncturing” a tyre recycling scheme, the Opposition’s environment spokeswoman says.
A new scheme to safely recycle thousands of tonnes of old tyres was now needed, Labour’s Megan Woods said today.
She said when the responsible minister Nick Smith scuttled the project, he dashed the hopes of industry groups and wasted years of work on the project.
The scheme was supposed to stop “old tyres leaching chemicals into New Zealand’s waterways,” Ms Woods said.
“The industry is understandably furious with this decision, after spending thousands of dollars developing a plan to protect our environment.”
She said Nick Smith told the industry in 2012 to investigate a new regime for recycling those old tyres which could not be safely dumped in landfills.
Ms Woods said New Zealand dumped 62,000 tonnes of old tyres every year.
“Nick Smith himself said they leach contaminants and pose ‘a long term risk to the environment’. We need a plan to recycle them safely.”
David Vinsen, chief executive of the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, earlier this month said industry groups were “stunned” and very disappointed about the U-Turn.
But the Environment Ministry told the Bay of Plenty Times the ministry had commissioned further analysis to “help determine if regulation was needed or if there were other options that might be equally or more effective long term”.
“Disposal of tyres to municipal landfills is still considered a safe disposal option while markets emerge. Under the Resource Management Act, the regional and district plans determine which activities are permitted, including the storage of end-of-life tyres.”
When the initiative was launched, Dr Smith said the Government would provide $133,000 to the Product Stewardship Foundation to explore recycling options for used tyres.
“This funding will be used by the Foundation to work with tyre industry importers and retailers to identify the best way for New Zealand to recycle and re-use our used tyres,” Dr Smith said at the time.