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Solid waste

Aluminium cans, ready to be recycled
Ka tuwhaina te huware ki te whenua, e hoki atu ranei ki to waha -
What you waste or throw away, you can never recover.

What is waste?

People throw things away when they do not have a use for them or think they have no obvious value. 

The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 defines waste as follows:


a. means anything disposed of or discarded; and

b. includes a type of waste that is defined by its composition or sources (for example, organic waste,  electronic waste, or construction and demolition waste); and

c. to avoid doubt, includes any component or element of diverted material, if the component or element is disposed of or discarded. 

Waste Minimisation Act 2008

The Waste Minimisation Act brought a new focus to waste. For the first time New Zealand had legislation focused on waste minimisation rather than waste management and disposal.

The key aims of the Act are to reduce the environmental impacts of waste in New Zealand by encouraging waste reduction and better use and reprocessing of materials.

The purpose of the Act (as stated in Part 1) is:

to encourage waste minimisation and a decrease in waste disposal in order to:

a. protect the environment from harm; and

b. provide environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits.

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, a waste disposal levy of $10 per tonne (plus GST) is applied to waste disposed of to disposal facilities (landfills that recieve household waste).  Fifty per cent of the revenue raised through the waste disposal levy is distributed to territorial authorities on a population basis. This funding must be spent on activities that achieve or promote waste minimisation and must be in accordance to district and city councils' Waste Management and Minimisation Plans (WMMPs).

Waste in the Waikato region

The Waikato region has five municipal solid waste landfills, five disposal sites associated with industrial operations and 13 or more consented cleanfills of significant size. The amount of solid waste for disposal is increasing.  In 2006, an estimated 588,000 tonnes of waste was disposed of to landfill in the Waikato region. This increased to more than 700,000 tonnes in 2010 - an estimated 19 per cent increase over this period. Wastes from areas outside our region (such as Auckland and Tauranga) are likely to be increasingly brought into the Waikato region for disposal. Find out about what happens to our waste.

At the same time we are becoming more aware of the potential effects of solid waste disposal. Poorly built and maintained landfills near waterways can leak contaminants into the water. Many unsatisfactory disposal sites have been closed or upgraded. Find out where waste landfills are located in our region.

Modern landfills are better managed with greater emphasis on avoiding environmental effects. But landfill space is becoming scarce as older sites are closed and suitable new sites are harder to find.

A well managed and appropriately located modern landfill with leachate collection, impermeable liners and landfill gas management systems is unlikely to have significant adverse effects on the environment. The resource consent process ensures that all sites meet strict environmental criteria.

A Māori perspective

For many years, the region's tangata whenua have been concerned about the release of pollutants into the environment. Historically, these concerns have focused on water (such as sewage discharges into the Waikato River). However there is also a strong interest in discharges to land, and the effects that those discharges could have on:

In Māori culture, Papatuanuku (the earth) is very important and tangata whenua have a vital role as kaitiaki. If waste disposal reduces or destroys the life supporting capacity of soils, it damages the mauri of the land.

Less waste

There is growing awareness that we live in a world of finite resources. This awareness is growing worldwide interest in waste prevention, resource efficiency, recovery, reuse and recycling. If we can reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first instance, there will be less adverse effects from waste generation and disposal. 

City and district councils have statutory responsibility for waste collection and management, including waste minimisation. They are required to prepare Waste Management and Minimisation Plans (WMMPs) following the waste management hierarchy of:

  • Avoid - prevention of waste generation is the most preferable, for example, designing out waste from products and processes
  • Reduce - support products that will produce less waste, for example, those with less packaging.
  • Reuse - for example, donate unwanted clothing or household goods to opportunity shops.
  • Recycle – for example, aluminium cans, paper and glass can be collected and reprocessed.
  • Recovery of resources - for example kitchen and garden waste can be composted.
  • Residual disposal.


What we are doing

In 2003, Waikato Regional Council released its first waste management strategy for the region. The strategy set out how Waikato Regional Council would help city and district councils and local communities achieve their waste minimisation goals. In April 2012, a revised Waste and Resource Efficiency Strategy 2012-15 was developed in partnership with industry, community and local and central government and adopted by the council.

The strategy has a shared vision of "working together towards a zero waste region".

The goals of the strategy are to:

  • protect our communities, land, water and air from harmful and hazardous wastes
  • encourage resource efficiency and beneficial reuse that creates sustainable, economic growth.

In order to achieve our goals, the strategy has the following focus areas:

Focus area A: Improve waste data and information management

Focus area B: Review regulatory environment governing waste

Focus area C: Reduce the harmeful impacts of waste

Focus area D: Increase resource efficiency and beneficial reuse

Focua area E: Stimulate research and innovation

For Waikato Regional Council's policy on waste management check out our Regional Policy Statement.

For rules and regulations on solid waste disposal check out the Regional Plan.

Find out more

Find out how you can help to reduce waste in the Waikato region, including reducing household waste and waste from businesses.

Check out where your local recycling facilities are located.

View the Regional Recycling Directory listed on the Waste Exchange.

Find out about contaminated sites and hazardous waste.