The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 was introduced to encourage waste minimisation and decrease waste disposal in New Zealand. Under the Act, a levy of $10 per tonne (excluding GST) on all waste sent to landfill was imposed from 1 July 2009. The levy is designed to encourage people and organisations to rethink how they dispose of waste and reward efforts made to divert material from landfill. The levy is charged at facilities where waste (including household waste) is disposed of and that operate, at least in part, as businesses that dispose of waste.
The levy aims to provide both an incentive to avoid waste, along with funding to help develop waste minimisation projects. Tools such as the levy are encouraging businesses and consumers to think about their waste and to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover as much as possible.
Significant changes to the levy and how it is collected have been proposed. In November 2019, the Ministry for the Environment produced a consultation document Reducing waste: a more effective landfill levy. The document points out that, while in other countries there is growing recovery and recycling of materials, in New Zealand, waste sent to landfills has been steadily increasing.
The current landfill levy only applies to municipal landfills, which take around 45% of the waste disposed of in New Zealand, excluding waste disposed of into cleanfills.
Large quantities of waste from construction and demolition are not subject to a levy at the moment. The proposal is for a levy of $20 per tonne for construction and demolition waste and for an increase at municipal landfills to $50 or $60 per tonne.
For more information on the waste disposal levy and the Waste Minimisation Act, see www.mfe.govt.nz/waste.