NZ’s trash trouble exported overseas
am[email protected] use all of that material in New Zealand.’’
There did need to be new facilities to process the plastics here, he said.
In August, Wellington City Council staff travelled to Malaysia and found their ‘‘recyclable’’ plastic meat trays from Wellington were being dumped.
It came as a shock, as meat trays had been touted as a recyclable option to polystyrene foam trays.
But Evans said it was not feasible for every council to travel to Southeast Asia to see where their waste was going.
Lay Peng, who works as a community activist for the Kuala Langat environmental group, said she would leave home in the middle of the night to find plastic being burned in secret fires in her village of Jenjarom.
The fumes from burning plastic were harming Malaysian residents in villages and lingering in their homes, she said.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the Environment Ministry had asked resource recovery operators to consider environmental issues in their international contracts.
‘‘Some of our local councils have this as a contract requirement with their service providers.’’
The recycling system in New Zealand was good and had developed over many years, she said.
‘‘We should continue to invest in this. However it’s obviously not the whole answer – we need to prevent waste from the outset by designing it out of the system, including creating products that last and can be repaired or have components that can be reused.’’
There was no need for Kiwis to stop recycling, she said. Furthermore, New Zealand should not stop shipping recycling to Southeast Asia.
‘‘But I do support those countries setting standards about what they want coming into their country,’’ she said.
‘‘For our part, this Government has started a significant programme of work to reduce our waste and support more onshore processing.
‘‘Change will take a while because we’ve had decades of not doing enough.’’
Rubbish being burnt in the open in Malaysia, where some New Zealand recycling is being dumped.