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Future waste disposal options being considered by Council


Wairoa District Council is weighing up its future solid waste options in the face of increasing landfill costs.

Wairoa’s rapidly filling landfill and increased compliance costs have driven the Council to look for alternative, cheaper and more efficient options for waste disposal.

Following Cyclone Gabrielle, Wairoa’s landfill has been filling up fast. In just one month the Wairoa landfill received three times the annual tonnage. Usually, the Fraser Street landfill receives about 3,000 tonnes of rubbish each year. In March 2023, 9,666 tonnes of waste from the cyclone were dumped.

The cyclone-related waste means Wairoa District Council will likely run out of landfill capacity in the present cell in 2026 instead of 2029. The Council is considering options for the future, with one solution being to stop dumping rubbish at the site and instead truck it to Ōmarunui Landfill, near Napier about 125km away. 

Other options involve developing a new landfill cell at the Wairoa dump, which would be more expensive. A business case indicates the preferred option is to close the tip and transport the rubbish to Ōmarunui. If the trucking option goes ahead, Wairoa’s landfill will still service the community, but it will function as a transfer station instead of a landfill.

Wairoa District Council Chief Executive Kitea Tipuna said Council is considering its options and no decisions have been made. “We needed to see if Ōmarunui was an option before we progressed any further. The Ōmarunui Landfill Joint Committee is open to the possibility of accepting Wairoa District Council solid waste at the Ōmarunui Landfill on a short-term and/or long-term basis.

We are appreciative of their warm response and can now factor in that disposal method as a possibility. We understand a more detailed report will need to go before the Hastings and Napier councils for consideration if Wairoa District Council goes ahead with the plans. We still have a lot of work to do and will be consulting with our community and mana whenua, as well as local iwi Ngati Parau, and Hastings and Napier Councils.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said Cyclone Gabrielle-related increase in waste at the Wairoa landfill had sped up the need to look at other options. No decisions have been made, and this is simply about gathering information so options can be considered.

“Our Landfill does still have capacity but it has a limited life. It is important we look at the sustainability and long-term costs of our waste disposal. The cost of compliance and carbon, ie greenhouse emissions to the government, is a massive expense for Wairoa ratepayers. We cannot just continue to increase the landfill gate charge to cover costs. We need to explore all our options.”

Mr Little said throughout New Zealand smaller landfills like Wairoa are closing and exporting their solid waste for disposal at larger facilities. “The management of solid waste has become significantly more expensive meaning smaller landfills struggle to comply with the latest consent conditions imposed upon them. Operating a landfill to these new standards requires sufficient waste (and therefore revenue) to account for increased fixed and operational costs without having to set a gate charge that is unrealistically high. Cells are expensive, and the carbon [fees] you have to pay out of a landfill are just unbelievable. However, it does seem incredible that the cost of trucking waste to Napier is cheaper than building a new landfill cell.”

Mr Little said whatever option is decided, recycling will still need to be processed from the present landfill site. “There are many things to take into consideration, also not forgetting SH2 was closed for three months. This is just the start of looking for the best-suited, efficient and cost-effective option.”

In a report to the Omarunui Landfill Joint Committee, Wairoa District Council explained that while resource consents for the Wairoa site do not expire until 2031, environmental compliance at the landfill is an ongoing concern.

Ōmarunui Landfill is the largest landfill in Hawke’s Bay and receives about 100,000 tonnes of rubbish each year, servicing both the Napier and Hastings councils.

Ōmarunui has the capacity to easily accept 3000 [tonnes of rubbish] per annum from Wairoa without impacting the life of the landfill to any great degree,” council papers stated.

A big project is currently being undertaken at Ōmarunui Landfill to open a new dumping site - known as Area B. That dumping site will be large enough to take rubbish for another 30 years. There is also room at Ōmarunui Landfill for further expansion in the long run.

26 February 2024

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