27 Nov 2019

Dump levy to be raised in effort to reduce landfill waste

From Checkpoint, 6:10 pm on 27 November 2019

Getting rid of rubbish at the dump could get more expensive, as the government plans to raise the cost of dropping waste at landfills.

In a new proposal, the landfill levy will rise from $10 a tonne to about $60 a tonne by 2023. Prices will vary depending on local councils.

In Sydney, the levy on municipal waste is currently AU$143.60 per tonne.

New Zealanders have sent more than 30 million tonnes of rubbish to landfills over the past 10 years and the volumes being dumped continue to climb.

The government intends for the price hike to encourage recycling, but there is concern it will create more illegal dumping instead.

"The volumes of waste going to landfill are rising, and incredibly New Zealand is one of the highest producers of municipal waste in the developed world, per capita," Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said.

Eugenie Sage is not fazed by the possibility of a rise in 'fly tipping' (illegal waste dumping) because of the increased costs.

She said the revenue from the levy could potentially be used in the future towards enforcement costs.

The levy will also be extended to cover the construction and demolition sector - which is one of the country's biggest waste producers.

Construction and demolition waste producers face a potential levy of $20 per tonne.

Canterbury Demolition director Lionel Green says that will be a kick in the guts for small companies like his.

"At the height of and after the earthquakes, what's being dumped today, there's thousands of tonnes so that’s a lot of money involved."

Mr Green says if Canterbury Demolition cannot compete with larger firms, he fears it will be priced out of the market.

National's environment spokesperson Scott Simpson has criticsed the proposal, saying the levy rate will not only cost households more but will lead to more fly tipping.

Half of the revenue raised from the levy will go to councils to fund resource recovery and other waste related infrastructure.

The remaining money will go the Waste Minimisation Fund, which provides grants for waste reduction.

It helps recycling operations like Green Gorilla, which diverts nearly 80 percent of the construction and demolition waste it receives from the landfill.

The waste from the company's skip bins is sorted at its facility. Treated timber is turned into bio-fuel, and plasterboard waste is turned into gypsum, to be used as a fertiliser, compost or cement additive.

Consultation on New Zealand's landfill levy expansion is now open, and will close in February 2020.