Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy

The Minister for the Environment is required to review the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy at least every three years. This page provides information on the reviews of the waste disposal levy carried out in 2014 and 2011.

The 2017 review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy is currently underway. The report is due to be published in July 2017. The final report will be available to read on this webpage after July.

2014 waste levy review

The 2014 review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy was completed on 1 July 2014. 

It focused on whether the levy is being applied fairly and correctly, and how to ensure a level playing field for those paying the levy.

Another priority was to assess the impact that levy funding is having. At the current rate of $10 per tonne (plus GST) the levy generates about $30 million each year. Half of this money is distributed to territorial authorities for waste minimisation initiatives. The rest (minus administration costs) is allocated to projects through the Waste Minimisation Fund.

The review found:

  • more and better data is needed to measure the impact the levy is having on waste minimisation
  • data that is available indicates that the levy is currently only applied to an estimated 30 per cent of total waste disposed of to land
  • changes should be investigated to ensure the levy is applied to a greater proportion of waste being disposed of to land and to ensure that issues of interpretation are clarified. Such changes will ensure a level playing field for those paying the levy
  • the processes around collecting and distributing levy revenue appear to be effective
  • levy funding has supported a broad range of waste minimisation initiatives. More could be done to ensure funding is directed towards strategic priorities and that funding outcomes are being effectively measured and monitored.

The review made 11 recommendations to:

  • improve the quality and quantity of waste data
  • ensure the levy is applied consistently by disposal facility operators
  • improve the coverage of the levy
  • better measure and evaluate the outcomes of levy funding
  • ensure funding is available for New Zealand’s strategic waste priorities
  • improve our understanding of the incentives for waste minimisation
  • promote user-pays pricing systems for waste disposal.

2011 waste disposal levy review

The first review of the waste levy was undertaken in 2011. At this time the levy had only been in place for two years so only limited conclusions could be drawn about its effectiveness. This first review focused primarily on reviewing progress in the activity of implementing the levy, and achieving the levy's short-term outcomes.

The 2011 review found:

  • the levy had been introduced and was operating as intended
  • there was not sufficient evidence to determine the extent to which levy avoidance or perverse outcomes of the levy were occurring
  • no evidence was found of an increase in incidence or volumes of illegally dumped waste.