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Landfill levy transparency needed to get public on board

LGNZ is welcoming the Government’s plan to increase funding for onshore recycling and to reduce the amount of landfilled waste, saying it is a vital part of the wider system change needed to improve New Zealand’s waste management.

“The increasing amount of waste going to landfill and the lack of onshore recycling facilities is a major concern for communities across New Zealand,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“The consultation announced today will provide a chance to shape system changes that can bring us closer to a circular economy. We’re hopeful that the Government will act on council advice to ensure the changes are cost-effective and efficient.”

The proposed changes include raising the landfill levy that funds waste minimisation projects, which is currently one of the lowest in the OECD, as well as having that levy apply to more types of landfill, as it currently only covers 11% of landfills, or 40% of the total waste sent to landfill.

“The China Sword ban on hard to recycle plastic has heightened awareness that so much plastic isn’t designed to be easily recycled, and that per capita New Zealand has above average waste generation.”

“If we widen the landfill levy, it’s important that the public can be sure that the money collected is being invested where it has the greatest impact possible, in reducing waste and increasing recycling.”

“We want to see funds raised go directly into transforming the waste industry, and that means the any money collected by central government should be ring-fenced and allocated to strategic national investments in waste minimisation, rather than being spent on piecemeal schemes, as we’ve seen in the past.”

“In particular we would like to see onshore recycling centres, a national waste minimisation strategy, expanding our glass recycling capability and controls on hard to recycle grade 3-7 plastics entering the country.”

At the 2018 LGNZ AGM, councils passed remits asking LGNZ to advocate for the implementation of the Local Government Waste Manifesto and the widening and lifting of the Waste Disposal Levy.

“Councils spend a lot of money on collection and processing of waste, as well as dealing with illegal dumping. In our experience, any levy is going to increase incentives for dumpers to get around it.”

“That’s why the levy changes need to be phased in over time, and work in tandem with other changes, for example giving the Litter Act more teeth, to ensure that councils have the appropriate tools to stop fly tipping.”

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