Waste Management: Productivity Commission Draft
at the Waste Management Institute NZ Inc
Eighteenth Annual Conference held in Christchurch
7-9 November 2006
by Matthew Warnken
Waste management and resource recovery issues are
an integral part of the sustainability debate, especially
given the emergence of the 'throw-away' society
and its associated linear flows of resources associated
with a 'take-make-waste' system of production and
consumption. In response many governments around
the world have introduced waste diversion targets,
with some jurisdictions aspiring towards zero waste.
However, the challenge of increasing resource recovery
invariably devolves to a comparison of the costs
and benefits of recycling.
The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Waste Generation
and Resource Efficiency was established to examine
these costs and benefits of recycling. The focus
of the Inquiry was to examine ways in which,
and make recommendations on how, resource efficiencies
can be optimised to improve economic, environmental
and social outcomes.
The Productivity Commission's draft report 'Waste
Management' was released in May 2006 and presented
the Commission's preliminary findings and recommendations
on waste generation and resource efficiency based
on a 'net social benefits approach' delivered through
'economic efficiency'. The overall conclusion of
the draft report was that 'best practice' landfill,
combined in some circumstances with appropriate
kerbside recycling, remains the preferred option
for dealing with municipal waste. The final report
is expected to be released before March 2007.
This paper presents an overview of the Productivity
Commission's draft report 'Waste Management'. Following
an overview of the original terms of reference to
the Inquiry, an examination of the methodology used
in the Commission's assessment of Waste Generation
and Resource Efficiency is provided. The draft key
findings and recommendations from 'Waste Management'
are presented, followed by the potential implications
for resource recovery, should the draft recommendations
be implemented. The paper concludes by examining
some of the critical points that need to be addressed
in the final report, in particular, the societal
costs of greenhouse gas emissions.
Click here to download the conference paper