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Published: 2004-05-14 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Environment Bay of Plenty want compulsory record keeping and reporting on hazardous waste in New Zealand after surveying wastes in the two regions.

The two councils looked at the generation and disposal of hazardous wastes across the two regions with input from a similar project done by Auckland Regional Council and some funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund. The objective was to provide reliable information on the volumes and flows of hazardous waste.

Land, Water and Waste Policy Programme Manager Robert Brodnax said the success of the project was mixed. While it had improved the existing information base and increased understanding of the problems, applying the results was limited by the quality of the data. Some businesses were unwilling to co-operate with the survey or had poor knowledge of their waste streams.

The Waikato Region produced significantly more identified types of hazardous waste than the Bay of Plenty and quantities were much higher – 70,000 tonnes compared to the Bay’s 24,000 tonnes.

Large industries produced more total waste in the Waikato than smaller industries, but the reverse was the case in the Bay of Plenty due to the Waikato’s larger number of large industries with more potential to generate liquid and sludge wastes, such as food processing.

In the Waikato, basic metal and food manufacturing industries dominated while wood processing, pulp and paper dominated in the Bay of Plenty. Seventeen priority wastes, including wood processing and surface treatment of materials, waste oil, batteries, medical waste and wastewater treatment waste, were identified.

Nearly 86 percent of waste received or generated by hazardous waste operators was discharged to trade waste for final disposal, indicating that trade waste was a major disposal route for hazardous waste in both regions.

Relatively few territorial authorities had operative trade waste bylaws and it was rare to monitor trade wastes for hazards such as dioxin, he said. Industries lacked knowledge of what constituted hazardous waste and whether they generated it, they lacked formal recording systems and few generators undertook chemical analyses of their waste streams.

He said many of the most significant actions Environment Waikato could take to address issues raised and actively manage the risks created by hazardous waste would require additional funding. One clear conclusion was that, without some form of mandatory reporting and tracking system, managing risks would always involve significant assumption or guesswork.

The Council’s Long-Term Council Community Plan provided for development of a strategy next year to develop specific programmes and identify funding mechanisms, he said.

The Committee recommended that the Council prepare a joint letter with Environment Bay of Plenty to the Minister for the Environment discussing the issues raised by the survey and seeking appropriate action.