Related waste legislation

This page provides an overview of legislation and international agreements relevant to the New Zealand waste sector.

New Zealand Waste Strategy

Waste management and minimisation in New Zealand is underpinned by the New Zealand Waste Strategy. This strategy sets the overall framework and strategic vision for achieving waste minimisation.

Find out more on The New Zealand Waste Strategy web page.

The legal framework for waste

Waste management and minimisation planning legislation is primarily provided by the following three Acts:

  • the Waste Minimisation Act 2008
  • the Local Government Act 2002
  • the Resource Management Act 1991.

Other legislation (such as the Climate Change Response Act 2002) also has implications for the waste sector.

These pieces of legislation and relevant international agreements are outlined in the following tables.


Waste Minimisation Act 2008

The Waste Minimisation Act encourages a reduction in the amount of waste we generate and dispose of in New Zealand to protect the environment from harm and provide environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits.

Resource Management Act 1991

The Resource Management Act (RMA) is New Zealand's main piece of environmental legislation and provides a framework for managing the effects of activities on the environment. The RMA controls the environmental impacts of waste facilities such as disposal facilities, recycling plants and cleanfills. 

Climate Change Response Act 2002

The Climate Change Response Act 2002 put in place a legal framework to allow New Zealand to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to meet its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


This Act also enables the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Operators of disposal facilities have specific obligations under the ETS - see Waste in the Emissions Trading Scheme [Climate Change Information website].

Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 

[WorkSafe NZ website]

The aim of Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is to promote the prevention of harm to all people at work and other people in or in the vicinity of places of work. This Act applies to all New Zealand workplaces and puts duties on employers, the self-employed, employees, principals and others who are in a position to manage or control hazards. 

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO) and its regulations control the import, manufacture, use and disposal of manufactured chemicals that have hazardous properties.


The HSNO Act prohibits the import or manufacture of a hazardous substance unless it is done under an approval. An approval sets controls (rules) for the substance throughout its lifecycle such as requirements for storage, identification, emergency management and disposal. The approval covers the lifecycle of the substance until it is disposed of according to the controls on the approval (eg, treating it so that it is no longer a hazardous substance or exporting it from New Zealand as a waste).

Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996

New Zealand's commitments under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer are contained in the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996.
The Ozone Layer Protection Act lays down the broad controls for ozone-depleting substances.

Local Government Act 2002 

[New Zealand Legislation website]

The Local Government Act empowers councils to promote the well-being of communities.


The purpose of local government is to:

  • enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities
  • promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future.

Solid waste collection and disposal is identified as a core service to be considered by a local authority. 

International agreements

International agreements are legally binding agreements between participating countries. Agreements relevant to the waste sector are to do with reducing, banning and regulating types of waste.


The following list has key agreements.

Basel Convention

The 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal aims to reduce the amount of waste produced by signatories. It also regulates the international traffic in hazardous wastes especially to developing countries.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants aims to protect human health and the environment by banning the production and use of some of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

The Montreal Protocol sets targets for reducing the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. New Zealand's obligations under the Montreal Protocol are implemented through the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996.