Council plans to reduce waste emissions
The Rotorua district is a step closer to reducing its municipal waste carbon footprint through the introduction of an organic waste collection service (green and food waste).
A recent report to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee identified that Rotorua is already diverting about 50% of municipal waste to beneficial use with the rest going to landfill. The amount of domestic waste going to landfill has increased by 28% during the past three years.
Green and food waste makes up more than 60% of Rotorua’s household waste. The average household puts about 350kg of organic waste in their red-lid rubbish bin every year, totalling about 10,000 tonnes per year across Rotorua. If this municipal waste is diverted away from landfill and put to beneficial use, the total municipal waste diverted will be about 75% of all waste produced by our community. Organics diversion will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced from municipal waste, by up to 11,000 tonnes of environment-damaging methane per year.
Since the capping of the Rotorua landfill several years ago, Rotorua has been paying for the transportation of waste to the Tirohia landfill in the Waikato. At the same time, the cost of sending household waste to landfill has continued to increase due to rising Central Government levies and changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme. These government driven taxes comprise about 60% of landfill costs.
Organic waste collection is identified as a priority in Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (WMMP) 2022-28 and Council’s Climate Action Plan 2020 and was indicated in the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan. In May/June 2022, Council consulted on various options to achieve this goal.
Submissions received favoured a mixed kerbside collection service of both food and garden green waste (FOGO), ahead of four other options. The preferred option also included collection of general waste (red bins) moving to fortnightly.
The Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved a recommendation to progress to procurement in order to confirm the estimated cost of such a service. Costs and next steps will then come back to elected members for consideration as part of considerations for the 2024-34 Long-Term Plan, for possible implementation from 2024.
Mayor Tania Tapsell says diversion of organic waste aligns well with Council’s Infrastructure priority of ‘protecting and restoring our natural environment’.
“This proposed organic waste initiative is timely. It has economic benefits from significantly reducing the cost of sending waste to landfill, but also better outcomes for the environment through the reduction of some of our most harmful emissions,” Mayor Tapsell says.
To encourage diversion of waste from landfills, the Government announced changes to the landfill levy and emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2020. The levy is currently set at $30 per tonne (excluding GST) on all waste sent to class 1 municipal landfills, increasing to $50 per tonne on 1 July 2023 and $60 per tonne in 2024. Diversion of organic waste is another significant step in mitigating the emerging near and long term financial risks to the ratepayer arising from these regulatory changes, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee was told.
Councillor Fisher Wang says community consultation was critically important and we saw just how much of an importance that it is.
“I don’t see this as a luxury – I see it as a sign of the change of times to reduce our emissions and minimising waste and waste heading to landfill – I don’t think that’s a luxury, it’s the right thing to do.
“We cannot keep digging holes in the ground and filling up with rubbish, it’s detrimental to our environment. There are incredible people in our community already doing a great job with their own composting and this will introduce it on a municipal level.”
Cost modelling for a FOGO service is expected to be between $46 and $58 per household, per year, which includes collection, processing and offset by savings from landfill diversion. Exact costs will be known after council goes to market for proposals and costings.