Environment canterbury received a report that significant quantities of preproduction plastic beads (Nurdles) are being discharged into our waterways and ending up in the estuary. There have also been multiple press articles on the plastic pollution. This pollution is not consented and likely originates from many different sources. There is no rule in Canterbury's regional plan permitting the discharge of plastic and is therefore in breach of the RMA Section 15 (1)(b). With good practices for managing this material on site, this pollution should be easily prevented. Environment Canterbury has taken enforcement action against a few companies for plastic discharges recently but clearly a wider approach is needed.
We do not often get reports of this sort of pollution as it predominantly happens in industrial and commercial areas out of sight from the public, so we needed to come up with a different approach to deal with this issue. A list of businesses which are likely to manufacture plastic was created with the help of a local university student who had funding from local community groups. The plan was to visit all these sites unannounced, provide education and to determine the extent of the problem.
Friday 3 November
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Incident Response Officer, Environment Canterbury
Stephanie Scheirlinck has a BSc in Ecology from Massey University and is an Incident Response Officer at Environment Canterbury. Stephanie has been involved in complex permitted activity investigations ranging from contaminated land, disturbance to waterways and discharges to air. Prior to working for Environment Canterbury, Stephanie worked for QCONZ assessing animal welfare, environmental and food safety assurance across the Wairarapa.