Metals industry wades in on Government's recycling proposals

Posted February 3, 2020

The NZ Association of Metal Recyclers publicly released a report today which shows that an increase to the waste levy and associated proposals to reduce waste will have the opposite effect.

“An analysis of industry data by Eunomia Consultants shows that for some metals, any increase to the waste levy will have the impact of reducing recovery rates rather than enhancing them,” says Richard Harrison, the Association’s President.

Harrison had an urgent meeting with the Hon Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment, and Ministry for the Environment officials last week to state the industry’s case.  

The items most likely to be impacted are whiteware such as old refrigerators and microwaves and stripped car bodies – the items that are often found dumped by roadsides. 
“Even a number of our member companies which were closed over the Christmas holiday period were the victims of dumping.  Large items of whiteware and non-metallic rubbish were left at gates to become their problem.”

Metal recyclers collect ‘shredder feed’ material from around the country and send it to one of seven shredders.  These multi-million dollar installations grind and pulverise materials to extract metals with the resulting waste, known as floc, requiring landfilling. “We continue to try to educate policy makers about the reality of metal recycling; modern products are mixed materials and if we don’t extract the metals from them, then the waste problem is larger.”

“Landfill managers tell us that they appreciate the reduction in volume that the shredding process achieves because space in landfills is conserved and they use the floc for cover to reduce odour and hydrogen sulfide emissions.”

Shredding is the internationally accepted standard for large-scale processing of metals.

The metal recycling industry trades metals on international commodity markets earning an estimated $425 million p.a. in exports for NZ. The industry wants an exemption to any increases in the waste levy for shredder floc to ensure that the metals keep coming through the gate for recycling.

Unlike the paper, plastics and glass industries, which largely had a single customer (China) for their materials, the metal industry is diversified.  “Metals aren’t being stockpiled; they’re being processed and recycled as part of the global circular economy.”

For further information, an interview, or photo op, please contact President Richard Harrison on 027 588 0036

Click here to download a .pdf of Metals Recycling in NZ: Painting the Picture of the Impacts of An Increase in the Waste Levy