Reviews of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy

The Minister for the Environment is required to review the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy at least every three years. This page provides information on reviews carried out in 2017, 2014 and 2011. The next review will occur in 2020.

2017 Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy

The 2017 Review of the Effectiveness of the Waste Disposal Levy was released on 3 July 2017. It is a targeted, interim review taking place between the major reviews of 2014 and 2020.

The review reports on the success of the waste levy for the period of July 2013 to June 2016. It highlights the achievements of the recipients of levy revenue, reports on waste data trends and funding allocation and provides an update of progress made on the 11 recommendations included in the 2014 review.

The review makes three recommendations to support targeted investment in areas that will return the greatest waste minimisation outcomes for New Zealand.

These are:

  1. Strategy: develop a clear vision, strategy and set of outcomes for the future direction of the waste disposal levy.
  2. Data: invest in developing a national waste data collection and evaluation framework that targets key information to prioritise waste issues and measure the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy.
  3. Approach: develop and implement a staged approach to applying the waste disposal levy across additional classes of landfills.

2014 Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy

The 2014 review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy was completed on 1 July 2014. 

It focused on whether the levy is being applied fairly and correctly, and how to ensure a level playing field for those paying the levy.

Another priority was to assess the impact that levy funding is having. At the rate of $10 per tonne (plus GST) the levy generated about $30 million each year. Half of this money was distributed to territorial authorities for waste minimisation initiatives. The rest (minus administration costs) was allocated to projects through the Waste Minimisation Fund.

The review found:

  • more and better data was needed to measure the impact the levy was having on waste minimisation
  • data that was available indicated that the levy was currently only applied to an estimated 30 per cent of total waste disposed of to land
  • changes should be investigated to ensure the levy was applied to a greater proportion of waste being disposed of to land and to ensure that issues of interpretation were clarified. Such changes would ensure a level playing field for those paying the levy
  • the processes around collecting and distributing levy revenue appeared to be effective
  • levy funding had supported a broad range of waste minimisation initiatives. More could be done to ensure funding was directed towards strategic priorities and that funding outcomes were being effectively measured and monitored.

The review made recommendations to:

  • improve the quality and quantity of waste data
  • ensure the levy was applied consistently by disposal facility operators
  • improve the coverage of the levy
  • better measure and evaluate the outcomes of levy funding
  • ensure funding was available for New Zealand’s strategic waste priorities
  • improve our understanding of the incentives for waste minimisation
  • promote user-pays pricing systems for waste disposal.

2011 Review of the effectiveness of the waste disposal levy

The first review of the waste levy was undertaken in 2011. At that time the levy had only been in place for two years so only limited conclusions could be drawn about its effectiveness. This first review focused primarily on reviewing progress in the activity of implementing the levy, and achieving the levy's short-term outcomes.

The 2011 review found:

  • the levy had been introduced and was operating as intended
  • there was not sufficient evidence to determine the extent to which levy avoidance or perverse outcomes of the levy were occurring
  • no evidence was found of an increase in incidence or volumes of illegally dumped waste.