PRESS RELEASE: IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3 July 2017
Cheap rubbish puts recycling out of business
Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of reusable and recyclable materials are going to landfill each year in NZ because waste
disposal is the cheapest option. This includes electronic waste, plastic film, beverage containers and construction
A new report by Eunomia has proposed raising NZ’s landfill levy from the current $10 per tonne to as high as $140 per
tonne. Raising the levy would mean reusing and recycling waste products and materials would become the cheaper option.
It would also help foster design innovation by manufacturers (to avoid the costs of disposal) and grow the recycling
An increased levy could bring in up to $200 million revenue each year to help support new recycling processes and
support businesses that at present can’t compete with the cheap cost of landfill.
The Eunomia report also estimates an increase in employment of 9,000 jobs. Many of these jobs will be entry level jobs
in rural areas, hard hit by the increasingly globalized economy.
“In order to be most effective, an increased levy will need to be matched with proper product stewardship to ensure
producers take responsibility for the whole life cycle of their products” says Sandra Murray, Co-ordinator for the
Product Stewardship Council “currently, anyone can sell un-recyclable, un-repairable short life span products, with no
thought of the cost of disposal. Ratepayers and councils have had enough”.
A gradually increased landfill levy combined with best practice product stewardship schemes will completely change the
nature and costs of waste disposal in NZ.
Since the Waste Minimisation Act was passed in 2008, Government has refused to use the internationally proven regulatory
components of the Act to reduce rubbish and reduce the costs to the public.
Instead, over $70M of landfill levy money has been spent on projects and schemes which have had little, if any, impact
on the amount of rubbish created or going to landfill.
“The piecemeal and ineffective allocation of the landfill levy contestable fund has failed to support the recycling
market, failed to create a level playing field for businesses and failed to address the key waste problems like
packaging, tyres, e-waste and agricultural chemicals” says Sandra.
“While the Product Stewardship Council supports an increased levy, we are concerned at the ineffective way levy funds
are currently being spent. With an increased levy, there is an even greater risk that the fund will be used for
political purposes rather than effective waste
minimisation. Therefore we call for the contestable levy fund to be overseen by an independent committee – such as the
existing Waste Advisory Board – not a politician”.
The most important functions of an increased landfill levy will be to enable reuse and recycling to be cheaper than
landfill; and to encourage design innovation to avoid waste being created in the first place.
We call for the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 to be enacted as it was intended - for the levy to be set at a rate which
will effectively reduce waste to landfill and increase recycling; and for comprehensive producer responsibility to be
set in place. Just like the rest of the developed world.