Report points to the need for a disaster waste management planning tool

A report initiated jointly by Environment Canterbury, Waikato Regional Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council reveals the need for a New Zealand specific disaster waste management planning tool for future disaster events.

“New Zealand is not very well prepared for managing waste generated in a disaster event,” said Davina McNickel, Team Leader of Contaminated Sites at Environment Canterbury. "The coordination of the response and the ability to make decisions in a short time period are key drivers for the development of this tool."

Managing disaster waste

After the massive disasters New Zealand has seen in the past few years such as the Christchurch earthquakes, North Canterbury earthquake and the Rena grounding on the Astrolabe Reef, it was clear that having a more efficient post-event waste management process was necessary.

“Approximately 8.75m tonnes of earthquake waste was produced from the Christchurch February 2011 earthquakes. That is nearly 40 years’ worth of normal city waste for Christchurch. From this example alone you can easily see the massive scale of waste that a disaster can generate,” she said.

“We envision that when the tool is developed it will be web-based and will be made available to all agencies involved in disaster relief.”

Some of the requirements of the tool include it being flexible enough to take into account unique regional conditions and environments, different types of waste and the various kinds of potential disasters.

Funding for a new tool

The three regional councils have jointly contributed to this project, spending $75,000 across the first two phases of the project, a scoping study and the recently released report.

The Ministry of Civil & Defence Emergency Management are providing $100,000 towards the creation and implementation of the tool. The three councils are also providing an additional $15,000 towards the tool’s development.

The next step in creating the tool will be project managed by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council who are currently in discussions with a Crown Research Institute to develop the tool on an existing web-based platform.  It is expected to be operational in July 2018.

Read the Disaster Waste Management Plan and the scoping study.