Regulated product stewardship

The Government has declared six priority products for regulated product stewardship under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. This is part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills or polluting the environment. 

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.

About product stewardship in New Zealand

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 and other synthetic greenhouse gases
  • farm plastics.

We are working with stakeholders to co-design, accredit, regulate and implement product stewardship schemes for each priority product group. We will consult on any regulations under the WMA that may be required to implement these schemes.

Co-design for all schemes except for e-waste and plastic packaging are complete.  Accreditation for large batteries, refrigerants and farm wastes are anticipated in 2023-2024. 

We anticipate regulations to support the accredited tyre stewardship scheme, known as Tyrewise, will be in-effect in late 2023.

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]

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 2008 creates an obligation and opportunity:

  • as soon as possible 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 means that participation in an accredited scheme is mandatory. This reduces 'free-rider' issues commonly 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]

Update on regulated product stewardship for priority products

Tyres and large batteries 

We consulted on proposed regulations to support product stewardship schemes for tyres and large batteries in late 2021. 

Accreditation for tyres has been completed, and the earliest date for regulation to be in-effect is anticipated in in late 2023. See the Tyrewise website for more information.

Accreditation for large batteries is anticipated in mid-late 2023, and the earliest date for regulation to be in-effect is anticipated in 2024. See the Battery Industry Group website for more information on scheme design.

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.
Large batteries:
  • 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 other synthetic greenhouse gases

Scheme co-design is completed and we consulted on proposed regulations to support the scheme in late 2022. Scheme accreditation is anticipated in March 2023 and regulation may be in-effect in 2024. 

See the Synthetic Refrigerant Stewardship website for further information.

Farm plastics and Agrichemicals and their containers (farm waste)

The Agrecovery Foundation is leading the co-design process for farm plastics and agrichemicals (farm waste). We plan to consult on regulations to support farm wastes in late 2023.

Electrical and Electronic Products (e-waste)

TechCollect NZ has led the co-design process for an e-waste product stewardship scheme. 

On 27 June 2023, TechCollect NZ published recommendations for Aotearoa New Zealand’s e-product stewardship scheme.

See TechCollect NZ for further information.

We plan to consult on regulations to support e-waste in 2024.

Plastic packaging

The Packaging Forum and New Zealand Food and Grocery Council are leading the two-year co-design process on plastic packaging. Timings for accreditation and consultation on regulations to support the scheme will depend on the outcomes of the co-design process.

What other regulations are available

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 there are a range of regulatory powers that may be placed on products, depending on whether 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 how the fees will be used to this end.
  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).