Policy and regulation

We set a number of rules relating to the storage, application and disposal of waste and hazardous substances in Canterbury.

Waste management policy and regulation

Our rules are guided by several pieces of national strategy and legislation, listed below, which outline local government and central government responsibilities.

Many of Environment Canterbury's rules relate to permitted activities, which means you don't need a resource consent as long as you meet certain conditions.

Whether it is a permitted activity or it needs a resource consent will depend on which substances you have and how much you have.

Environment Canterbury policy and planning

Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan 

The Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan 2016 is our regional plan for managing land and freshwater resources throughout the Canterbury region.

It provides the necessary controls to ensure the use of chemicals, spillage or the disposal of hazardous waste does not result in contaminants entering or leaching into fresh water.

The plan also guides the protection of soil health, including the prevention of soil contamination through the improper use of hazardous substances.

It sets out permitted and prohibited activities around the discharge of waste.

Canterbury Regional Policy Statement 

The Canterbury Regional Policy Statement 2013 provides an overview of the resource management issues in the Canterbury region, and the objectives, policies and methods to achieve integrated management of natural and physical resources.

The methods include directions for provisions in district and regional plans.

Chapter 18: Hazardous Substances establishes a policy framework for the management of hazardous substances.

Chapter 19: Waste Minimisation and Management sets out a framework for addressing the significant waste minimisation and management issues for Canterbury under the Resource Management Act 1991.

National legislation

Waste Minimisation Act

The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 aims to reduce the environmental impact of waste in New Zealand by encouraging waste reduction and the better use and reprocessing of materials.

The Act promotes product stewardship; that is, producers and importers taking responsibility for their products at the end of the products life. Product stewardship can also be made compulsory on some products.

It also puts a levy on waste going to landfills, which is used by local government, businesses and community groups for waste minimisation projects.

It outlines specific requirements for city and district councils to manage waste and promote waste minimisation in their area.

For more information, visit the Ministry for the Environment's waste website.

Local Government Act

Under the Local Government Act 2002 territorial authorities must have responsibility for efficient and effective waste management and the preparation of waste management plans in their localities.

The Act contains provisions for each territorial authority to enact bylaws relating to their roles and responsibilities for waste management.

This includes the ability to set levies to cover any costs incurred in the administration of these functions.

The Act also requires all territorial authorities to develop waste management plans.

Resource Management Act

The Resource Management Act 1991 addresses waste management through controls on the environmental effects of waste management facilities through local policy, plans and consent procedures.

In this role, the Act exercises considerable influence over waste disposal facilities in view of the potential impacts of these facilities on the environment.

The Act has helped drive improvements in the standards of landfills and waste water treatment plants as they transition from low standard to well managed facilities.

It also provides for the development of national policy statements and for the setting of national environmental standards and the development of regional and district plans that detail the rules for resource management.

Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 sets out principles, duties and rights in relation to workplace health and safety in New Zealand. WorkSafe NZ administers the Act.

WorkSafe NZ also undertakes certain hazardous substance functions under the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Act (HSNO) 1996, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), including:

This includes:

  • issuing test certifier approvals, renewals and extensions;
  • oversight of the test certification regime;
  • issuing controlled substance licences;
  • issuing approvals for plant and equipment used in workplace;
  • approval of HSNO codes of practice; and
  • development of guidance material and other information resources.

The EPA retains responsibility for Hazardous Substance Approvals.

Other legislation

A range of other statutes cover the management of small volumes of infectious, radioactive and hazardous wastes in New Zealand.

These include:

  • the Litter Act 1979;
  • the Health Act 1956;
  • the Radiation Protection Act 1965;
  • the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997; and
  • the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996.

In addition, the Building Code (issued under the Building Act 2004) and requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 provide for the safe storage and management of hazardous substances.

The Land Transport Act 1998, Maritime Transport Act 1994 and the Civil Aviation Act 1990 all control the transportation of dangerous goods, including categories of hazardous wastes.

All domestic legislation relating to waste management is in accordance with New Zealand's commitments under relevant international agreements, such as the Stockholm, Waigani and Basel conventions.

National strategy/standards

National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

National environmental standards are mandatory technical environmental regulations.

They have the force of regulation and are implemented by agencies and parties with responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The Government introduced the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES) in 2004.

In summary:

  • The NES prohibits any new high temperature incinerators operated for the principal purpose of the destruction of hazardous wastes. Low temperature incinerators are not included within the regulation.
  • Burning of any refuse at a landfill is prohibited; however, the ban does not apply to the flaring of landfill gas.
  • The operation of an incinerator at a school or healthcare institution is also banned, unless a resource consent has been granted for the discharge.
  • The bans do not cover waste-to-energy incinerators.
  • The NES also requires the collection and destruction of methane gas at all landfill sites with a total design capacity greater than one million tonnes of refuse. The regulations set standards for the flaring of gas, but also allow for the destruction of collected gas for beneficial uses, such as electricity generation.
New Zealand Waste Strategy

The New Zealand Waste Strategy is a high level, non-statutory document which sets the country's direction for the appropriate management of all categories of waste – liquid, solid and gas.

The three core goals of the strategy are to:

  • lower the social costs and risks of waste;
  • reduce the damage to the environment from waste generation and disposal; and
  • increase economic benefit by more efficient use of materials.

These goals are consistent with the Government's sustainable development objectives and are explicitly linked to the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and to the Government's climate change policies.

Central, regional and local government are all involved in initiatives to achieve these goals.

The New Zealand Waste Strategy includes 30 national targets that cover nine priority waste categories or management areas, including hazardous waste.