Regulated product stewardship

The Government has declared six priority products for regulated product stewardship under the Waste Minimisation Act. This is part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills or polluting the environment. 

We are currently consulting on proposed regulations for product stewardship of tyres and large batteries.

Find out more about the proposed regulations and have your say (consultation closes 16 December 2021) 

What regulated product stewardship is

Regulated product stewardship is when regulations are used to: 

  • increase circular resource use
  • place responsibilities for managing end-of-life products on producers, importers and retailers rather than on communities, councils, neighbourhoods and nature.

Six priority products for regulated product stewardship

In July 2020, the Government announced six products to be declared ‘priority products’ for the establishment of regulated product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (WMA).

The products are:

  • plastic packaging
  • tyres
  • electrical and electronic products (e-waste including large batteries)
  • agrichemicals and their containers
  • refrigerants 
  • farm plastics.

MfE is working with stakeholders to co-design product stewardship schemes for each priority product group. We will consult on any regulations under the WMA that may be required to implement those schemes. Co-design of the schemes for tyres and refrigerants is currently underway. 

Read Associate Minister Sage's media release: Government to regulate environmentally harmful plastic packaging, tyres, e-waste [Beehive website]

This announcement followed public consultation held in 2019.

See the Declaration of Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

Update on regulated product stewardship for priority products

Tyres and large batteries 

We are currently consulting on proposed regulations for product stewardship of tyres and large batteries.

Find out more about the proposed regulations and have your say (consultation closes 16 December 2021) 

See the Tyrewise website for co-design background reports for tyres or appendix 1 of the full consultation document.

See the Battery Industry Group website for co-design background reports for large batteries or appendix 2 of the full consultation document.

Accreditation applications are anticipated from the second half of 2021. 

Why we need regulations for product stewardship of tyres and large batteries

Every year around 6.5 million tyres are imported into New Zealand. When they reach the end of their use, about a third are exported, recycled or used for other purposes such as silage weights on farms. The rest go to landfill or are illegally dumped. This creates the risk of fire and toxic emissions.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy requires major increases in renewable energy and electric vehicles and both require large batteries. In 2020, an estimated 1,000 electric vehicle batteries reached the end of their useful lives. It is estimated that by 2030 that number could reach 84,000 each year. Mis-managed large batteries also pose risk of fire and if they end up in the landfill or the environment toxins such as heavy metals are released.

The product stewardship schemes for tyres and large batteries have been co-designed with industry and other stakeholders to ensure they work for both the people involved and the environment. The schemes need regulations to work, to ensure the entire sector participates and follows best practice. 

Refrigerants and agrichemicals 

Scheme co-design has been completed for refrigerants and agrichemicals. 

See the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship website for co-design background reports for refrigerants.

The agrichemicals and containers co-design process is being run by the Agrecovery Foundation.

Accreditation applications and consultation on regulations for these schemes are anticipated from the second half of 2022. 

Farm plastics and e-waste

Accreditation applications and consultation on regulations for these schemes are anticipated from the second half of 2022. 

The farm plastics co-design process will be run by the Agrecovery Foundation.

Co-design process information is available for e-waste [TechCollect website].

Plastic packaging

Scheme co-design has not started for plastic packaging.

Consultation has closed on proposed measures to address hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic items. Find out about the consultation

Why declare a priority product

To declare a priority product the Minister must be satisfied that:

  • either:
    • the product will or may cause significant environmental harm when it becomes waste
    • or there are significant benefits from reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery, or treatment of the product
  • and:
    • the product can be effectively managed under a product stewardship scheme.

Declaration of ‘priority product’ under the Waste Minimisation Act creates an obligation and opportunity.

  • As soon as is practicable after a product is declared a priority product, a product stewardship scheme for that product must be developed and accreditation obtained (section 10).
  • An option becomes available to prohibit the sale of a priority product except in accordance with the accredited scheme (section 22(1)(a)). This would mandate participation in an accredited scheme and reduce free-rider issues typically experienced by voluntary accredited schemes.

Process for declaring a priority product

Any priority product declaration will be notified in the New Zealand Gazette. If required, ministerial guidelines about the product stewardship schemes will be provided.

Before new regulations are passed, the Ministry for the Environment will consult with those who may be affected by the regulations.

This includes manufacturers and brand owners who sell their product in New Zealand and any scheme managers who have an existing accredited product stewardship scheme for the same product.

Declaration of priority products notice and general guidelines

Declaration of Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

General guidelines for Product Stewardship Schemes for Priority Products Notice 2020 [New Zealand Gazette website]

What other regulations are available

Under the Waste Minimisation Act there are a range of regulatory powers that may be placed on products, whether or not they have been declared priority products (section 23).

These include the following.

  1. Control or prohibition of disposal.
  2. Control or prohibition of manufacture or sale of products that contain specified materials (Used for plastic microbeads in 2017 and for single-use plastic shopping bags in 2018).
  3. Required take-back services for products.
  4. Fees payable for the management of a product, who must pay when and what the fees will be used for.
  5. Required deposit on the sale of a product, and requirements for its refund and use.
  6. Requirements for labelling of a product.
  7. Standards to be met when reusing, recycling, or recovering a product or material, and who is required to enforce them.
  8. Required collection of information and reporting for certain regulations (1-5 above).