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NZ government ploughs NZ$124 ($116) million into recycling infrastructure and levy scheme

As part of a broader plan to reduce the increasing amount of rubbish ending up in New Zealand’s landfills, the government is investing NZ$124($116m) to fund a new recycling infrastructure and expand the national waste levy scheme.

Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage said that rubbish disposal to New Zealand’s municipal landfills had increased by 48 per cent in the last ten years.

“We need large scale and urgent action because much of what is currently sent to New Zealand landfills could be recycled, composted or reused.

The funding comes as part of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) and national initiatives will include plastic recycling and reprocessing plants, weighbridges for improved waste data collection and improved material and community resource recovery plants.

“This NZ$124 ($116) is a massive investment in reducing waste – about as much as the entire Waste Minimisation Fund allocation in the past decade.

“Increased investment in waste minimisation and resource recovery infrastructure will ensure New Zealand emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic with a far better resource recovery and recycling system, creating hundreds of permanent jobs and incomes across New Zealand,” Sage said.

She added that expanding and increasing the waste levy is one of the best tools we have to incentivise reduced waste to landfill and prevent valuable resources from being thrown away.

“We are making it easier for households and businesses to do the right thing.”

The Government’s initiatives include:

  • Level the playing field by expanding the waste levy to cover additional landfill types, including construction and demolition fills (progressively from July 1 2022). At present the waste levy only applies to municipal landfills that take household waste, with no levy on the remaining almost 90 percent of landfills throughout the country.
  • Progressively increase over four years the levy rate for landfills that take household waste from the current NZ$9.6 ($9) per tonne – set in 2009 – to NZ$60 ($56) per tonne. The current plan is for first changes to the levy to take effect from July 1 2021. Current economic conditions will be considered before implementation timelines are confirmed later this year.
  • Collect better data about the country’s waste creation, and how it is disposed to ensure better management
  • Investment of the additional revenue from the waste levy in initiatives that support waste reduction, such as building New Zealand-based recycling infrastructure.

Green Gorilla is the first entity to benefit from the funding receiving AU$3 million for a new commercial and industrial waste line, which is able to process mixed commercial and industrial waste and divert it from landfill.

The Ministry for the Environment estimates that when fully implemented, the new levy could increase the cost of the weekly council kerbside rubbish bag by about NZ25c (23c), depending on individual council decisions.