Managing disaster waste

Following the Canterbury earthquakes, it was estimated that approximately 8.75 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste would be generated, equating to roughly 40 years of waste normally sent to landfill from the city.

The Waste and Environmental Management Team

The Waste and Environmental Management Team (WEMT) was introduced to deal with the containment, collection and disposal of earthquake waste and rubble following the Canterbury earthquakes.

WEMT is a joint function of Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and regional district councils.

WEMT staff carry out site visits and waste audits at demolition, rebuild and regeneration sites across the region, in both residential and commercial sectors.

Waste Management Plans are then developed and utilised as an auditing tool to establish the nature of material onsite and how it is to be handled, transported and disposed of.

Demolition waste transport and disposal

The responsibility of each agency during the transport and disposal of demolition waste during the rebuild is as follows:

  • WorkSafe NZ is responsible for the movement or transport of hazardous waste around a workplace or a site.
  • Once hazardous waste leaves a workplace or site, NZ Police is responsible for complaints such as those regarding unsecure loads on the trucks.
  • The NZ Transport Authority is responsible for the safety of State Highways, should any waste be left behind on a roadway.
  • City and district councils as well as Environment Canterbury focus on monitoring any consents/permissions that have been given for the transportation and disposal of demolition waste for specific sites/activities.
  • Councils are also responsible for managing complaints about the illegal disposal of demolition waste.
  • Environment Canterbury is responsible for the legal and safe disposal of hazardous waste such as asbestos.

The Combined Health and Environmental Risks Committee

The Combined Health and Environmental Risks Programme Control Group (CHER) was developed in response to the health and environmental risks associated with the Christchurch Rebuild. The group is made up of representatives from:

Membership of the Combined Health and Environmental Risks Committee is as follows:

  • Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council)
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority
  • WorkSafe NZ
  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Waimakariri District Council
  • Selwyn District Council