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The Bulletin: Recycling rejected by Indonesia coming straight back

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Indonesia to send contaminated recycling back to NZ, LAWA report shows water quality dropping at more sites than not, and Spark Sport suffers harsh weekend.

Shipping containers full of contaminated recycling could be shipped back to New Zealand, Anna Whyte from One News reported near the end of last week. It was being sent to Indonesia, but they can’t recycle it and – quite understandably – don’t want to be the world’s landfill. It is as yet unknown how many containers will be coming back, though it is being estimated at around 5.

It is being described as a “wake up call” by Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, especially as only a portion of it actually will be able to be recycled here, reports Radio NZ. She said that while the government have a role to play here, people need to ensure that what they’re putting into the recycling is clean. Recycling isn’t magic, and an effective system can break down remarkably quickly with the wrong inputs. That term – of it being a wake up call – was also used in this press release put out a couple of days ago by the Zero Waste Network.

It’s not just New Zealand either. Channel News Asia reports more than 300 containers have now been repatriated from Indonesia, in particular to Australia, the USA, and European countries. Indonesia are part of a wider movement of countries in Asia who are sick to death of taking the world’s trash, sparked by China’s decision last year to stop accepting most kinds of plastic. The question for New Zealand – where fierce local battles are happening over landfills in places like Wainuiomata and the Dome Valley – is how we can go about paying the cost of our addiction to single use plastic when there is nowhere else to send it.


It’s a murky picture, but overall river quality is getting worse more often than it is getting better, reports Radio NZ. That’s the conclusion from a major LAWA study conducted over 10 years, which found that more sites are seeing degradation from total nitrogen and E.coli than not.

It comes at a sensitive time for two reasons: Firstly, the government’s freshwater plans are currently going through consultation, with public meetings characterised by farmers being furious at the plans, which some see as ruinous. And secondly, Regional Council elections are currently underway – Fish and Game are quoted in the story saying Regional Councils have failed in their obligations to protect the environment.


It might seem like a sport story in the news section, but the travails of Spark Sport have major implications for a few huge companies. Spark Sport were forced to go to the bench early in their biggest test so far, announcing at half time that the rest of the New Zealand vs South Africa match would be shown on TVNZ Duke – a free to air channel – because “a small percentage of our customers are experiencing streaming issues.” They then made all of the games on Sunday free to air too. Duncan Greive watches this market really closely and has written a must-read analysis of what it means.


A story alleging seriously inappropriate behaviour by a Christchurch councillor broke over the weekend, on Radio NZ. The as-yet unnamed Councillor was the subject of a complaint from a teenager back in May, after a late night facebook message was sent talking about the teenager’s physical attractiveness. Further complaints against the Councillor followed. Mayor Lianne Dalziel also issued a statement last night, outlining what she found out when, and what action was taken. That included banning the Councillor from events involving young people.


This is a really interesting microcosm story of the wider issues surrounding the housing crisis. Marc Daalder at Newsroom has looked at a plan to build 37 state houses in Whangarei, however the neighbours are using the RMA to try and stymie development. It’s a complicated story, but the clear assertion at the heart of it is that it’s about “how difficult it will be to solve growing homelessness where the haves don’t want to live next to the have nots.” About 700 people in Whangarei need state housing right now, over and above those already housed.


A South Dunedin shoe shop is closing down after 98 years of trading through the same family, reports The Star. It’s an illuminating story which reflects changing retail habits, as well as the fortunes of parts of South Dunedin. The retiring owner of Thomas Shoes, David Thomas, said he couldn’t understand how online shoppers could buy shoes without trying them on first.


Protests have taken place around the world over inaction on climate change, reports One News. They’re happening in the run-up to a meeting of the UN General Assembly. In New Zealand, organisers of similar protests have called for a general strike on 27 September, which is this Friday.


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Kiwi Toa Training Squad scrimmage (Photo: Brian Moffat)

Right now on The Spinoff: I report on a pay-for-play accusation made by a mayoral candidate against Māori Television, over an approach for an “interview opportunity” that would cost them $500. A Spinoff team has combed through every single mayor, council, local ward and regional council candidate to find out who believes in climate change, and who doesn’t. Amanda Thompson meets the Men’s Roller Derby squad, a sport dominated by women. Brian Ashcraft takes an expert look at the culture around tattoos in Japan, amid the All Blacks covering theirs up. And Russell Brown takes Patrick Gower’s documentary On Weed to task, saying parts of it were dangerously flawed.


For a feature today, an analysis from a former senior MP on what is and isn’t possible. Writing on Pundit, Wyatt Creech sets out a view of modern power, in which regardless of the policies or businesses that are being pushed, unilateral rhetoric almost never survives contact with reality. I don’t necessarily agree with his views, but must admit he’s been a lot closer to power than I have been. Here’s an excerpt:

The trade war with China was going to be an easy thing to win, Trump said, when he first slapped on some tariffs. But then he did not reflect before launching his ‘trade war’ that the Chinese might not just simply back down. They have not – each round of new tariffs has been met with a responding counter measure. There is no end in sight.

Same with foreign policy, The self professed ’master deal maker’ has had two summits with Kim Jung Un to solve the Korean problem and de-nuclearise the Peninsula; again there is no end in sight.

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Alright, I’ll admit I was a bit cold on the Rugby World Cup last week, but after a weekend of games I’m hyped as hell. A lot of games have so far been closer than expected, and there could be some big group stage casualties. The All Blacks beat the Springboks, which now means a dull few weeks as they put away the minnows in the group. But the rest of the world will give plenty to watch out for – Fiji vs Wales, Argentina vs England and Japan vs Scotland are all shaping up as decisive matches for deciding who reaches the playoffs.

Sticking with rugby, congratulations to Southland on winning a game! The Stags snapped a 27 game losing streak, by flogging Counties Manukau at home. Stuff reports it was particularly sweet for fan Lindsay Beer, who has been to almost every single game the team has played in the last two decades.

Finally, there’s going to be wall to wall rugby coverage over the next six weeks or so, across all sorts of media. And I don’t want it to be the only sporting coverage that goes in The Bulletin, but during World Cups other sports can get completely starved for attention. So if there are other, more obscure sport stories that you reckon should be in The Bulletin – email them to me – thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz.


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