Ensuring that waste is managed and disposed of responsibly

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.

A pile of dirty recyclable products (like cans and bottles) in the landfill. Source: Science Learning Hub NZ.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 free future: Reduce, reuse and recycle. Source: Ministry for the Environment.

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.


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

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).

Report on wastewater treatment systems in Darfield and Kirwee released

A 2015 report on wastewater treatment systems in Darfield and Kirwee found that many septic tanks are poorly operated and maintained.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says if septic tanks are not properly maintained, they can cause health and environmental problems.

“Septic systems can work well in rural areas especially if they’re regularly maintained and tank owners are careful with what they put down their sink and use in their home,” Dr Humphrey says.

“It’s good news the reports show septic tanks currently do not present a risk to health because groundwater is very deep. However, if tanks are not adequately maintained health issues could emerge, especially since the Selwyn District is the fastest growing district in NZ.”

The survey of more than 100 septic tanks by CDHB was one of three reports released on the treatment of wastewater in Darfield and Kirwee.

Page last updated: 12/03/2019

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