The Auckland Council Waste Assessment37 was initiated under the auspices of the Auckland Transition Agency and released in February 2011. It was then updated in July 2011 and formally noted in August 2011. The assessment is a stock-take of waste services provided throughout the region, an estimate of demand for future services, and includes proposals (including new infrastructure) for meeting that demand.
THE CURRENT SITUATION: FINDINGS FROM THE AUCKLAND COUNCIL WASTE ASSESSMENT
3.1 Summary of key findings
- Auckland sent 1.174 million tonnes38 of waste to landfill in 2010 including domestic and industrial and commercial waste. This represents approximately 0.8 tonnes per person per year.
- Waste management and minimisation services are fragmented in Auckland. Few key facilities are owned by the council, and the majority of landfills and transfer stations are owned by two large commercial waste companies. As a consequence, the council influences only approximately 17 per cent of the waste stream; the rest is controlled by private industry.
- There is limited information on the quantity or composition of waste sent to managed fill and cleanfill sites in the Auckland region. However, it is estimated that just under 1.8 million tonnes39 of material is disposed of annually, 30 per cent of which is construction and demolition material. (There is a need for accurate data if progress is to be tracked with confidence.)
- The council kerbside services collected 194,564 tonnes40 of refuse in 2010/2011. Of this, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent was organic material (about 40 per cent of the total being food waste and 10 per cent green waste41).
- It is estimated that up to 30 per cent of the waste Auckland sends to landfill from all sources could be diverted42. This material would include organics, timber, metal and plastics43.
- The rates component of waste services to householders varies considerably across the region, depending on the services offered by former councils and the methods of funding. The lowest solid waste component of household rates is that of former councils that implemented disposer-pays for refuse services.
- Many opportunities were lost under the old Auckland governance structure, including uniform systems for kerbside collections. The new governance structure reignites those opportunities as waste management services, particularly the recovery of recyclables, lend themselves to a regional approach. This is an economic issue: combined waste streams allow economies of scale when making the large investments needed for new sorting technology and facilities44.
- A range of issues and risks rule out waste to energy (WTE) as an option for dealing with Auckland’s domestic waste stream at this time, although this may well change in the future. A key issue is that WTE is on the recovery level of the waste hierarchy (see Fig. 2, page 15 of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment) and therefore at odds with the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (WMA) and the council’s Zero Waste goal45. Additionally, the council currently has insufficient influence over Auckland’s waste stream to supply a WTE facility, which involves significant capital costs46. (Subsequent to the waste assessment, a draft climate change mitigation strategy is being worked on that considers certain waste streams’ potential as feedstock for energy generation.)
- Transport inefficiencies were identified relatingto the distances council-contracted waste operators travel from waste collection areas to and from transfer stations and landfills47. Although after further analysis these were not as high as originally thought, there is still potential for some improvement, particularly as costs were not included for other important aspects such as congestion impacts, transfer station or landfill waiting times, emissions and pollution, road damage, truck configurations, transfer station or landfill opening hours, and night hours and bulk hauling at night. After discussions with the waste industry it is clear that the industry is very focussed and successful in mitigating transport inefficiencies.
- The three strategic direction options identified in the waste assessment were to:
- continue with the status quo with some streamlining
- continue with the status quo with new activities to maximise diversion (includinga kerbside organic collection of some sort).
- take actions as in option (2) but also seek operational influence over the entire waste stream, advocate for legislation for stronger product stewardship and/or that places similar requirements on the private sector to reduce waste as required of local government under the WMA. (Option 3 was subsequently adopted by Auckland Council on 15 March 2011.)
38 Appendix F of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment: Auckland Council Waste Assessment Data Update. Waste Not Consulting. Based on data provided by KPMG August 2011.
39 Auckland Council Waste Assessment. Chapter 3. Table 3.4-4.
40 Appendix F of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment: Auckland Council Waste Assessment Data Update. Waste Not Consulting. August 2011
41 Initial estimate from the Waste Assessment Part C . Organics report
Page 4. Reassessed by Waste Not Aug 2011.
42 Estimates of potential to reduce waste to landfill were mindful of high reductions in some European countries (over 60 per cent) where significant regulation has been imposed but were calculated for Auckland conditions.
43 Waste Not supplementary data the Waste Assessment, August 2011.
The overall goal emanates from this data.
44 Appendix F of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment: Royal Commission on Auckland Governance report. Part 5, Section 30.
45 Appendix F of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment: Waste to Energy
for Auckland discussion paper. Campbell McPherson. May 2011.
46 However, the door needs to stay open to this possibility in the future, and proactive consideration can be given to specific waste streams being utilised for the production of heat or as a fuel source, such as a significant amount of wood waste (60,000 tonnes per year) that is currently being diverted from landfill for use as a bio-fuel in some wood-fired burners of industries such as timber processing.
47 Appendix F of the Auckland Council Waste Assessment: Evaluating potential transport inefficiencies in Auckland waste. Ernst and Young. May 2011- case study on council-controlled domestic waste collection.