How Are Agriculture and Industrial Sector Dealing with Environmental Protection Laws in New Zealand?

If you take a look at sector shortages in New Zealand, you’ll find that agriculture and farming is one of the sectors struggling the most. There are long term shortages in the industry, so what’s putting people off from investing in this type of career path?

Although agriculture has dwindled in popularity since technology took over, there are other factors contributing to its decline. In New Zealand, there are strong environmental protection laws in place which need to be followed.

Here, we’ll look at how the agriculture industry deals with environmental protection laws in New Zealand.

What do the environmental protection laws cover?

The environmental protection laws in New Zealand are some of the strictest in the world. The country has earned a reputation for its clean, beautiful landscapes. A lot of its tourism is driven by its cleanliness and thriving ecosystem. This means the government has needed to introduce strict environmental protection laws to ensure New Zealand retains its pristine reputation. These laws include:

  • Resource Management Act 1991
  • Conservation Act 1987
  • Environment Act 1986
  • Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996

These are just a small number of the regulations and laws pertaining to the environment. There’s also a large list of related laws in New Zealand, making it difficult for businesses to keep up. This is especially true for those working within agriculture and industrial sectors.

New Zealand’s rivers under serious threat

Although New Zealand has developed a reputation as one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, it’s rivers are currently under serious threat. The environment ministry claims that two-thirds of the country’s rivers are now deemed un-swimmable. Even more worrying is that three-quarters of all of the country’s freshwater native fish are under threat of extinction.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the government has announced a rather ambitious plan. They are aiming to see a noticeable improvement over five years. Freshwater protection plans are being drafted and are expected to be put into place by 2025. In the meantime, immediate interim controls have been introduced. Swimming pools will be subject to increased water quality standards. However, it’s the farming sector which is going to see the biggest changes in regulations.

How are the agricultural and industrial sector dealing with the laws?

The agricultural and industrial sectors are currently struggling with the change in legislation. Although the government has pledged $229 million NZD to help farmers transition to the new laws, there’s still a lot of challenges the sector needs to overcome.

Farmers need to stop risky farm practices, such as allowing cows to stray to nearby waterways. Cow manure is partially being blamed for the increase in river pollution. New irrigation practices will also be denied unless farmers can prove it won’t harm the environment. There’s a lot of new laws being introduced which are causing issues for farmers and the industrial sector. Those working within the sector would do well to seek advice from specialists such as RSM.

Overall, New Zealand is making its environmental protection laws stricter over the next five years. This is already having an impact on the agricultural sector. However, seeking professional advice can ensure those working within the sector understand and adhere to the new legislation.

Food Waste Management in USA

food_wasteFood waste is an untapped energy source that mostly ends up rotting in landfills, thereby releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste is difficult to treat or recycle since it contains high levels of sodium salt and moisture, and is mixed with other waste during collection. Major generators of food wastes include hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, residential blocks, cafeterias, airline caterers, food processing industries, etc.

In United States, food waste is the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste. Around 13 percent of the total municipal solid waste generated in the country is contributed by food scraps. According to USEPA, more than 35 million tons of food waste are thrown away into landfills or incinerators each year, which is around 40 percent of all food consumed in the country. As far as United Kingdom is concerned, households throw away around 8 million tons of food each year. These statistics are an indication of tremendous amount of food waste generated all over the world.

Food Waste Management Strategy

The proportion of food waste in municipal waste stream is gradually increasing and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised to ensure its eco-friendly and sustainable disposal. The two most common methods for food waste recycling are:

  • Composting: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste by naturally occurring micro-organisms with oxygen, in an enclosed vessel or tunnel;
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD): A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Currently, only about 3 percent of food waste is recycled throughout U.S., mainly through composting. Composting provides an alternative to landfill disposal of food waste, however it requires large areas of land, produces volatile organic compounds and consumes energy. Consequently, there is an urgent need to explore better recycling alternatives. Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy.

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be used as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes, etc.

Food waste is one of the single largest constituent of municipal solid waste stream.  Diversion of food waste from landfills can provide significant contribution towards climate change mitigation, apart from generating revenues and creating employment opportunities. Rising energy prices and increasing environmental pollution makes it more important to harness renewable energy from food wastes. Anaerobic digestion technology is widely available worldwide and successful projects are already in place in several European as well as Asian countries which makes it imperative on waste generators and environmental agencies in USA to strive for a sustainable food waste management system.