Presenters: Jeff Matthews, GHD; &  Reece Irving, Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Presentation title: Rural waste in the Waikato & Bay of Plenty – Building a national picture

Across New Zealand, regional plan rules allow farm waste burial and burning as a permitted activity. Most farms have a pit in the back paddock where farm and household wastes are disposed of. The farmer, or farm worker has sole control over the types of waste buried or burned on the farm. GHD was engaged firstly by Environment Canterbury to undertake an initial Region wide rural waste survey, and then by the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils to investigate on-farm waste disposal across two more Regions across New Zealand. The surveys showed New Zealand farms produce 2.15 million tonnes of waste annually. Much of this is disposed of on-farm through burning, burying or bulk storage. The surveys indicated on-farm waste disposal could be potentially occurring in environmentally sensitive areas. In the Waikato and Bay of Plenty surveys observations indicated that burn or burial pits were located less than 40 meters from a water-way on half of all farms surveyed. The locations of Farm Dumps are seldom recorded on council plans. The legacy of unrecorded land use and potential water contamination could be significant for New Zealand. Farmers have an ingrained sense of right to control their own waste disposal options and generations have become used to having access to a free farm dump or burn pit. This paper discusses survey findings and observations, potential solutions to rural waste issues, outlines the responsibility for regional and territorial authorities to improve plan rules, and explores how priority product stewardship schemes could impact rural waste disposal options and looks at alternatives to encourage behaviour change for current practices where waste disposal has seldom carried an economic cost. A national set of initiatives should be undertaken to understand risks, understand opportunities and identify obstacles for lasting behaviour changes before New Zealand’s clean green image disappears down a farm dump, forever.
Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2014
Date: Thursday 23 October 2014