That’s the conclusion of the alternative waste management assessment that was recently undertaken, according to Waste Operations Manager Emily Taylor-Hall.
“The team wanted to test the assumption that extending the Landfill was the way to go, because things are rapidly changing on the waste management front,” says Taylor-Hall.
“The Southern Landfill is a critical piece of sanitation infrastructure for Wellington. We accept waste from kerbside collections, commercial collections and materials delivered by residents and businesses to the on-site transfer station.
“It’s the only facility in Wellington City that accepts special waste including all the City’s dewatered sewage sludge, contaminated soil and asbestos containing materials. The existing disposal area will likely reach capacity as early as 2023.
“As a Council we’re committed to reducing the amount of material landfilled by 30 per cent by 2026. Even so, waste generation is projected to rise in line with population and GDP growth. The Landfill itself does not generate waste – waste minimisation begins well upstream of the Landfill, but we do need to have somewhere to dispose of this waste. The Landfill is just one part of the wider waste picture, which includes carbon.
“We wanted to see if there were any other alternatives around rather than extending the Landfill. We put forward a set of values to assess the alternatives against, and held some lively discussions with the community. We ranked the values in order of community importance and Council priorities.”
The values included community impacts/values, environmental, technology risk, financial, legislative/Resource Management Act and product risks.
“The values were then applied to the alternative options and what came out was that extending the Landfill remains the most viable solution for now,” she says.
“As much as we’d all like to see alternative ways of managing our waste there is nothing else currently available that stacks up, so we’ll be working towards lodging consents for the extension in 2020.”
Taylor-Hall says the decision to extend the Landfill reflects that good practice landfill design, construction and operation is well proven in New Zealand.
“It also reflects that there’s a relatively low environmental risk with appropriate design and operation, and that the cost of the Landfill extension is relatively low compared to other options.”
Council will continue its current initiatives to reduce waste.
Public drop-in sessions will be held at the start of December to explain how the decision was made, and to seek input on the technical studies that will be undertaken to help with design and the resource consent application which will be lodged next year.
There’ll be further public engagement early next year to talk about the concept design of the Landfill extension.
Waste management alternatives assessment (2.2MB PDF)