Future options for Rotorua district landfill under discussion
New options are being explored for the future management and operation of the Rotorua district landfill as part of a review of Rotorua Lakes Council's waste management plan.
Councillors at today’s (14 October 2015) Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee meeting received an update on investigations into possible future options.
The volume of waste going to the landfill has decreased annually since 2008 and price increases implemented in 2011 and 2012 to counter reduced waste volumes resulted in more commercial users going elsewhere. About 47% of waste generated in the Rotorua district is now going to facilities outside the district and the cost of operating the landfill has begun to exceed income, creating a gap of about $2 million per year, an amount forecast to increase if changes are not made.
There are also landfill space capacity, operational safety and environmental compliance issues which require capital investment to upgrade that could, if income cannot be improved, further increase the funding gap. That will effectively result in the landfill being a burden on general rates.
Council staff have held workshops with potential partners in the waste industry to consider solutions and expect to call for competitive proposals for the operation of the landfill in late October so that costs can be factored into assessing the various options.
A recommendation on the preferred proposal is expected to be put to councillors by February/March 2016.
Possible scenarios include:
• A commercial operator taking on all operational, environmental and statutory requirements with capital investment made by the council but the operator taking on all capital servicing costs and council setting user fees;
• A contractor funding all required upgrades, operation and maintenance costs and stipulating user fees with council receiving an agreed minimum net financial return;
• Council entering into a joint venture partnership with the private sector with risks and benefits shared 50/50;
• Other variances suggested by the sector, where it can be demonstrated that the council’s target outcomes can be best achieved.
Important issues for consideration will be ensuring the landfill’s sustainability, commercial viability and achieving optimum waste and environmental outcomes for the council and the community.
In response to a question from Cr Mark Gould, councillors were told there is no pre-determined objective to close the landfill but it is an option which must be considered. Staff are exploring all possible options to bring back to councillors early next year.
Councillors also raised concerns about illegal dumping of rubbish and were told there was no reluctance on the part of council to prosecute illegal dumpers. However, a high level of evidence – ie catching people in the act – is required. Council staff are involved in ongoing education programmes and work with community groups and schools to conduct clean-ups.
Rotorua residents generate about 45% more per household waste and recycle about 53% less than in similar districts, councillors were told.
Today’s meeting is being livestreamed on YouTube and can be viewed via council’s website (rotorualakescouncil.nz) along with the agenda and presentations delivered.