19 Jun 2015

Minister denies ditching tyre-recycling scheme

6:05 pm on 19 June 2015

The Environment Minister is rejecting suggestions by the Labour Party that he is scuttling a new scheme to recycle old tyres and stop them going to landfill.

The tyres are being stored on farmland in Taupo and here at a quarry in Waihi Beach.

Photo: SUPPLIED

Labour said the industry had spent four years developing a proposal, at the request of Nick Smith, but it had now been abandoned by the Ministry.

It said New Zealand had 62,000 tonnes of old tyres and they were a hazard.

However, Dr Smith said he had not made any decisions yet and he was expecting a report from the Ministry in July.

"I remain enthusiastic about a different process for dealing with tyres because I think the way in which we currently manage them as a country does come with environmental risk and does cause a headache for our local councils."

Dr Smith said he remained open-minded about a solution and would make a decision once he had received the report.

Earlier, Labour environment spokesperson Megan Woods said New Zealand had mountains of old tyres building up and they were a hazard.

Ms Woods said Dr Smith needed to front up and explain why he was turning his back on the proposal.

"Industry think they've got a solution. I think the Minister needs to tell them why he doesn't think that's the case and why he's not going to push the go button on all their hard work."

The Imported Motor Vehicles Industry Association agreed. Its chief executive David Vinsen said industry members were angry and stunned by the Minister's decision.

"We've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own time and money in developing this and there's no real reason for it not to happen.

"The very cause to the problem, which is huge piles of tyres that have been collected and just left there, they're a potential fire hazard and they're a contaminant and a pollutant."

Mr Vinsen said he was hopeful the Minister would change his mind as it was the right thing to do.

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