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Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview

This chapter explains the purpose of this guide, and provides a brief overview of the legislation and the levy. It also introduces the Online Waste Levy System (OWLS) set up to help minimise compliance costs for operators of waste disposal facilities –


What is the purpose of the guide?

This guide is intended to help waste disposal facility operators meet their obligations under Part 3 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (the Act) and the Waste Minimisation (Calculation and Payment of Waste Disposal Levy) Regulations 2009 (the Regulations).

This guide gives practical advice and guidance. It includes examples of how to calculate the tonnage of waste the levy must be paid on, submit the returns, and make payments to the levy collector.

What is in this guide?

The guide contains six chapters and three appendices.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction and overview – this chapter gives an overview of the waste disposal levy.

  • Chapter 2: Submitting returns and paying the levy – this chapter provides information on calculating and paying the levy, both monthly and annual levy returns.

  • Chapter 3: Annual returns – this chapter provides information for operators who are approved to file returns annually.

  • Chapter 4: Applications for waivers and refunds – this chapter looks at situations where a disposal facility may not need to pay the levy. The process for refunds is also outlined.

  • Chapter 5: Ways to calculate tonnages – this chapter provides information on options for calculating the levy.

  • Chapter 6: Monitoring the levy – the final chapter explains the records and information disposal facility operators are required to keep. It also outlines the auditing requirements disposal facility operators can expect for the levy, and what happens if the Act and Regulations are not complied with.

  • Appendix 1: Glossary – this explains key terms used in this guide.

  • Appendix 2: Vehicle classification – this provides a table showing the vehicle classes.

  • Appendix 3: Schedule of conversion factors – taken from the Regulations, this sets out the conversion factors for converting volume measurements to tonnages for different types of waste or diverted materials.

  • Appendix 4: Acknowledgements – here we thank those who have contributed to the creation of this guide.

Further information

Further information about the waste disposal levy is available from:

The Ministry for the Environment Levy Administrator and Levy Collector
Phone: 0800 WDLEVY (0800 935389)
Ministry website: http://mfe-refresh-upgdtest/waste
Online Waste Levy System (OWLS):

When you contact us by phoning 0800 WDLEVY (0800 935389), if you are a registered user we may need to verify your identity. We will use information provided when you registered.

Overview of the Act and levy

What is the purpose of the Waste Minimisation Act?

The purpose of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 is to encourage waste minimisation and a decrease in waste disposal to:

  • protect the environment from harm

  • provide environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits.

What is the purpose of the levy?

The purpose of the waste disposal levy is to:

  • raise revenue to promote and achieve waste minimisation

  • increase the cost of waste disposal to recognise that disposal imposes costs on the environment, society and economy.

The levy provides an economic incentive to change behaviours and reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place because it only applies to waste disposed of, not material that is diverted for reuse and recycling.

When did the levy come into effect?

The levy has been paid on waste disposed of at disposal facilities since 1 July 2009.

What is the basis of the levy?

The basis of the levy is set out in Part 3 of the Act, while the Regulations contain the actual details of how to calculate tonnages and pay the levy.

How does the levy work?

The levy of $10 per tonne (excluding GST) applies to waste disposed of at a disposal facility. These are facilities (including landfills) where waste, including household waste, is disposed of, and which operate, at least in part, as a business to dispose of waste. The ‘operator’, or the person who is in control of a disposal facility, is liable to pay the waste disposal levy to the levy collector and submit returns. The ‘levy collector’ is the Secretary for the Environment.

For further definitions of terms used in this guide, see the glossary in Appendix 1.

Minimising the costs for operators

The Online Waste Levy System (OWLS) has been designed to help minimise the costs of complying with the levy. It provides secure access to information for disposal facility operators and those administering the levy. Through the website you can register, send returns and apply for extensions of time, waivers and methodologies. This is your main point of contact for all activities and correspondence related to the levy, whether you are communicating with the levy collector or the Secretary. Your requests and queries will be directed to the appropriate people.

OWLS is located at:

A user guide for the waste levy system is available from the website, or by contacting the levy collector on 0800 WDLEVY (0800 935389).

How are funds from the levy used?

All money collected from the levy is to be spent on waste minimisation. Levy money must be distributed and spent as follows:

  • First, any refunds due are paid to operators of disposal facilities. This occurs when a levy payment has been waived.
  • Next, half of the remaining levy money will be allocated to territorial authorities on a population basis. They must spend the money on promoting or achieving waste minimisation as set out in their waste management and minimisation plans.
  • Next, administration costs are paid. These are the costs of collecting the levy and distributing funds to territorial authorities and through the waste minimisation fund.
  • Finally, remaining levy money will be allocated to waste minimisation projects, through the Waste Minimisation Fund. You may be eligible to apply for funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund. To find out more go to our Waste Minimisation Fund web page.