Ensuring that waste is managed and disposed of responsibly

Set of wheelie bins - green for organics, red for rubbish and yellow for recycling.Waste disposal takes many forms including direct discharge to land or water, and sludge disposal. Such wastes need to be managed in such a way that the adverse effects are minimised to protect the environment and human health.

Community and Public Health works with local and regional councils to ensure that both solid and liquid waste is disposed of in healthy manner to prevent:

  • chemicals and pathogens contaminating drinking water;
  • contamination of soil by heavy metals from industrial processes and surface runoff;
  • creating favourable environments for disease-causing bacteria and viruses including bioaerosols;
  • unpleasant or harmful odour problems; and
  • unfavourable effects on Māori cultural values since they place high value on their land and water.

The Medical Officer of Health and Health Protection Officers have specific powers under the Waste Management and Minimisation Act 2008:

  • Councils are legally required to consult with the Medical Officer of Health when preparing a Waste Management and Minimisation plan (Section 51); and
  • Health Protection Officers have powers to serve notice on a Council to abate a waste nuisance (Section 55).

Waste reduction is something where we can all make a tangible difference – whether it is reducing single use plastic, recycling materials we use and using less disposable materials that end up in landfills.

Waste free future: Reduce, reuse and recycle. Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Feedback sought on new waste strategy and options for new waste legislation

The Ministry for the Environment are seeking feedback on proposals for a new waste strategy and issues and options for new waste legislation.

New Zealand is one of the highest generators of waste per person in the world. On average, every year each New Zealander sends approximately 750kgs of waste to landfill, and much of this could be recycled, re-processed or reused.

We need to change the way we think and live when it comes to the way we use materials.

Everyone has a role to play to minimise waste and its impact on the environment. We know communities, businesses, and local government are already taking a number of actions to reduce waste and make their resource use more efficient. And many are looking for ways to avoid creating waste altogether.

The Ministry is consulting on:

  • a proposed new waste strategy that sets an innovative bold direction for everyone to transform the way we think about and manage waste; and
  • issues and options for developing new more comprehensive waste legislation to regulate the management of waste, and products and materials circulating in our economy. Once developed, the new legislation would replace the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 and the Litter Act 1979. The new legislation is expected to go through the House during 2023.

Find out more about the new waste strategy and options for new waste legislation, including how to have your say. The closing date for this consultation has been extended to Friday 10th December 2021.

Dealing with liquid waste products

The primary sources for liquid waste are:

  • septic tanks from residential properties,
  • reticulated wastewater systems including Wastewater Treatment Plants; and
  • disposal of oils, fats and sludge from Offensive Trades such as fish cleaning, rubbish collecting and stock yards.

Download an information sheet on the impact of urban waste pollution on local waterways, including stormwater and sewage overflows [237KB PDF].

Dealing with solid waste including recycling

The primary sources of solid waste are domestic, commercial and industrial waste from processes and packaging, demolition material and organic materials.

Rubbish collection and disposal is primarily the responsibility of district and regional councils under the Local Government Act 2002 and the Resource Management Act 1991.



Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Government takes action on problem plastics

The Government has delivered on its promise to phase out problem plastics and some single-use plastics by July 2025.

The plastics phase-outs will take place in three stages. Items to be phased in late 2022 include:

  • PVC meat trays;
  • Polystyrene takeaway packaging;
  • Expanded polystyrene food and drink packaging;
  • Degradable plastics such as oxo and photo degradable options;
  • Plastic drink stirrers; and
  • Plastic stemmed cotton buds.

“These types of plastics often end up as waste in landfills and cause pollution in our soils, waterways and the ocean. Reducing plastic waste will improve our environment and ensure we live up to our clean, green reputation,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“Phasing out unnecessary and problematic plastics will help reduce waste to landfill, improve our recycling system and encourage reusable or environmentally responsible alternatives.

How to live more sustainably

Waste management is a major challenge in NZ as three quarters of our waste that is sent to landfill is recoverable.

We can show love for our environment and our planet by living as waste-free as possible. We can also waste less money in the process!

Get more information on how to live waste free (Recycle NZ).

Page last updated: 26/11/2021

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