Wellington to build new landfill on top of old one

2:17 pm on 2 February 2023
Image of the proposed ‘piggy back’ expansion of the Southern Landfill, with the expanded section front centre.

Image of the proposed 'piggyback' expansion of the Southern Landfill, with the expanded section front centre. Photo: Supplied

Wellington City Council has confirmed it will extend the capital's landfill by building a new one at the same site, on top of a landfill that was closed in 1996.

The Southern Landfill in Ōwhiro Bay will be full by 2026, and its resource consents are due to expire at the same time.

With the business case approved for what was called the 'piggyback' option, council would seek resource consent for the landfill from Greater Wellington Regional Council, and a decision was expected early next year.

During public consultation last year, half supported the 'piggyback' option, with 24 percent preferred a waste to energy solution, and less than 5 percent wanted no landfill.

Waste to energy technology would burn waste and capture the generated heat to produce electricity - but council was not keen on it because it required at least 70,000 tonnes of waste to operate, cancelling out waste reduction efforts.

Environment and Infrastructure Committee Chair Councillor Tamatha Paul said council was "not ecstatic" to be extending the landfill and it was a tough decision for the future of Pōneke.

"On balance, our decision today means that we retain more of the surrounding native bush, we deal with waste where it is generated as opposed to carting it out into the region, and we won't pursue technology that relies on the generation of waste to function," Paul said.

The development will be done in four parts, and council has approved funding for the first two - expected to cost $36 million.

To meet the cost it will take $16.3 million from the 2029-2031 long term plan period into the 2022-2028 period.

The new landfill is expected to open by mid-2026.

Meanwhile, council is also working on a solution to radically reduce the city's rubbish.

It is consulting on a draft zero waste strategy which aims to half the amount of waste going to landfill by 2030.

This includes a review of kerbside collections, gathering new data and information from waste collectors and operators, and developing an organics processing facility.

Chief infrastructure officer Siobhan Procter said the strategy would make it easier for Wellingtonians to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

"This is imperative if we are to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by half by 2030 and meet our goals of being a net-zero carbon capital by 2050," Procter said.

Consultation for the draft strategy will run until 5pm Tuesday 28 February.