Part 1: Introduction

Waste managment planning by territorial authorities.

In this Part, we describe:

Why we undertook our audit

The Local Government Act 1974 requires all territorial authorities to prepare and formally adopt a waste management plan. The requirement was first introduced in 1996 and did not specify when territorial authorities needed to prepare a plan by. The Local Government Act 2002 introduced a further requirement that each authority must adopt a waste management plan by 30 June 2005.

The Local Government Act 1974 directs territorial authorities, when preparing their plans, to consider the waste management methods of reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery, treatment, and disposal, and to provide for waste collection and management activities in the district.

We wanted to provide an assurance to Parliament about the usefulness of territorial authorities' waste management planning for solid waste.

We wanted to know whether every territorial authority had prepared a waste management plan that provided for waste collection and management activities in its district, and we wanted to see whether six selected territorial authorities were following their waste management plans. We also wanted to look at case studies of particular approaches to waste management, and comment on how territorial authority practices contributed to the effectiveness of those approaches.

Scope of our audit

Our audit assessed:

  • the extent to which all territorial authorities' waste management plans met the requirements of the Local Government Acts 1974 and 2002, and took account of targets set in The New Zealand Waste Strategy (the Waste Strategy);
  • how six selected territorial authorities had implemented their plans; and
  • examples of particular approaches that territorial authorities had taken to waste management.

Our audit of waste management plans was limited to solid waste management. We did not consider liquid or gas wastes. However, we note that the Local Government Acts 1974 and 2002 do not define waste and do not specify the wastes (for example, solid, liquid, or gas) that a waste management plan must address.

We did not assess any central government agency's or regional council's role in waste management planning.

Legislative requirements for waste management plans

Every territorial authority is required to adopt a waste management plan by 30 June 2005. Waste management plans must describe how the authority intends to provide for waste management in the district. Plans need to be adopted under the Local Government Act 2002 special consultative procedure,1 which requires the community to be consulted on the plan before it is adopted.

In preparing waste management plans, territorial authorities must consider (in the following order of priority) the following methods for managing waste:

  • reduction;
  • reuse;
  • recycling;
  • recovery;
  • treatment; and
  • disposal.

These methods, shown in Figure 1, are often presented as the waste hierarchy. Methods higher up the hierarchy are given priority because they use fewer resources.

For this report, we have organised the waste hierarchy into three groups: waste reduction, waste diversion (reuse, recycling, and recovery) and waste disposal (treatment and disposal).

The New Zealand Waste Strategy

The Ministry for the Environment, in consultation with Local Government New Zealand, published the Waste Strategy in 2002. The document provides national guidance for waste management, including targets and actions. However, territorial authorities do not have to comply with the Waste Strategy.

Long-term council community plans

The long-term council community plan (LTCCP) is the main mechanism that territorial authorities use to consider and allocate resources to provide for waste management activities over the long term.

The Local Government Act 2002 requires every territorial authority to have an LTCCP at all times.

An LTCCP serves a variety of purposes. These include:

  • describing the territorial authority's activities;
  • providing a long-term focus for the authority's decisions and activities; and
  • providing integrated decision-making by the authority, and co-ordination of its resources.

Territorial authorities must identify all activities they undertake or intend to undertake (including waste management activities) in their LTCCP. The Local Government Act 2002 sets out the information every territorial authority must include about each activity or group of activities in its LTCCP.

Every LTCCP must also include the waste management plan or a summary of the plan.

Figure 1
The waste hierarchy

Figure 1.

1: Plans prepared before 2002 needed to be adopted under the Local Government Act 1974 special consultative procedure.

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