Waste Disposal Levy FAQs

What is subject to the levy?

Any waste that is disposed of at a waste disposal facility as defined under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (for example, a landfill) is subject to the levy.

Who is responsible for paying the levy?

Disposal facility operators must pay the levy based on the weight of material they dispose of at their facility, but they may pass this cost on to the waste producer, for example households and businesses. 

Why was the waste levy set at $10 per tonne?

The primary focus of implementing the levy has been to raise revenue for waste minimisation projects. At $10 per tonne (plus GST), it will provide revenue to make progress on projects that reduce waste. It was decided to take a conservative approach to setting the levy amount so it:

  • is less likely to result in behaviour such as illegal dumping
  • reduces the impact on businesses and households
  • reduces the risk of inefficient spending of the revenue
  • allows the effects, both positive and negative, resulting from the levy to be assessed.

Will the levy rate of $10 change?

The Minister for the Environment has completed the first review the effectiveness of the levy. As a result of the review, the Government is not considering any changes to the rate of the waste disposal levy at this time.

What happens to the money collected by the levy?

Funding is available for initiatives that support New Zealanders to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.

Half of the total money generated by the levy goes to territorial authorities, on a per head of population basis, to assist them with minimising waste in their area. 

The remaining levy money (minus administration costs) is put into a waste minimisation fund, to fund waste minimisation activities around New Zealand. 

What will the Ministry do with the reporting information being collected?

The reporting information collected from disposal facilities is used to calculate the amount of levy money paid by each facility and to provide statistics on waste that the Ministry can use to inform future policy development and environmental reporting. Examples of these Ministry reports include Environment New Zealand 2007, the New Zealand Waste Strategy, and the Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy, 2011

The Ministry considers information collected from individual sites to be confidential and intends only to make aggregated data available to the public.

If this is a national levy, why do different facilities charge different amounts for waste?

While disposal facilities are charged a common levy rate of $10 per tonne of material disposed at landfill by the Ministry, the total price you are charged by the facility also includes their own costs to run the facility, which are likely to be different at each facility.

Is the levy likely to cause an increase illegal dumping?

At $10 per tonne, the levy is unlikely to encourage an increase in illegal dumping. 

Whilst illegal dumping can be driven by the high cost of disposal, other factors such as lack of enforcement, limited educational resources and undesirable consumer behaviour can also contribute to this behaviour.

The 2011 review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy found a decline in the number of incidents of illegal dumping. Experience from similar schemes imposed at a regional level has found there is little evidence to show that illegal dumping rises directly as a result of increased disposal charges.

How has the levy been reviewed?

Under section 39 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 the Minister for the Environment must regularly review the effectiveness of the levy, with advice from the Waste Advisory Board. The first review was completed by 1 July 2011. Further reviews are required every three years.

In conducting the review, the Minister assessed the effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the levy, which are to:

  • raise revenue for promoting and achieving waste minimisation; and
  • increase the cost of waste disposal to recognise that disposal imposes costs on the environment, society, and the economy.

Read the Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy, 2011 report

How can I minimise the cost of the levy to my business or household?

Many companies already divert over 50 percent of their waste from landfill. There are also a number of companies that divert over 70 percent of their waste for beneficial reuse. These companies are not only operating in an environmentally sound way, but are saving themselves money.

You can minimise the cost of the levy to your household by reducing the amount of rubbish your household produces – try reusing or donating old products, or choosing products with little or no packaging. By recycling and composting as much of your waste as possible you can save on the cost of council collection.

Do other countries have a waste levy?

Waste levies are used in a number of countries including Australia and several countries in Europe.

There are a number of different approaches that have been taken to implementing a levy, but most are seeking similar outcomes that the New Zealand waste disposal levy will achieve. Some key differences include different levy rates based on waste type and location, and increasing levy rates annually until a fixed price cap is reached.

The UK, Ireland and several regions within Australia all have schemes similar to that being implemented in New Zealand.

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Last updated: 21 August 2013