The future of the Southern Landfill

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Update on the proposed Landfill extension - Level 3



COVID-19 alert Level 3 means much the same for us as the Level 4 lockdown did.

Rubbish collection is ongoing, and the Landfill is open to commercial account holders but closed to everyone else. Kerbside recycling continues to be stopped under Level 3, but you can find some good tips on how to reduce your waste here.

Like many of you, most of our team is continuing to juggle working from home with our other family responsibilities.

We are continuing with our Landfill extension plans remotely, although some investigation work is temporarily on hold, as site visits are required.

At this stage we’re anticipating lodging resource consents mid-year, but this does depend on how long the current restrictions are in place.

We will continue to give you updates and, in the meantime, if you’re got any questions please feel free to get in touch by email Landfill@wcc.govt.nz

Update on the proposed Landfill extension - Level 3



COVID-19 alert Level 3 means much the same for us as the Level 4 lockdown did.

Rubbish collection is ongoing, and the Landfill is open to commercial account holders but closed to everyone else. Kerbside recycling continues to be stopped under Level 3, but you can find some good tips on how to reduce your waste here.

Like many of you, most of our team is continuing to juggle working from home with our other family responsibilities.

We are continuing with our Landfill extension plans remotely, although some investigation work is temporarily on hold, as site visits are required.

At this stage we’re anticipating lodging resource consents mid-year, but this does depend on how long the current restrictions are in place.

We will continue to give you updates and, in the meantime, if you’re got any questions please feel free to get in touch by email Landfill@wcc.govt.nz

Category Landfill information   Show all

  • Landfill by the numbers

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    7 months ago

    More than 100,000 tonnes of waste comes to the Southern Landfill every year so what happens to it all?

    From that almost 20,000 tonnes is diverted, salvaged or recycled every year.

    • Green waste diverted to compost – approximately 5,800 tonnes per year

    • Food waste diverted to compost – approximately 1,600 tonnes per year

    • Scrap metal diversion – approximately 575 tonnes per year

    • Salvaged material and voluntary drop offs at the Tip Shop – estimated at 250 tonnes per year

    • Recycling from kerbside and the free recycling drop off – approximately 11,500 tonnes per year.

    The remaining material is either too dangerous to be diverted, e.g. asbestos contaminated material, or there is currently no large scale and economically sustainable facilities that can divert this waste so it needs to be landfilled.

    That said, we are always on the lookout for opportunities for diversion.

    We helped start Kai to Compost, a bespoke private food waste collection service geared to service café’s, restaurants and businesses in the Wellington area. We have seen it grow to the point it is now run by a private waste company with the resources to improve the service.

    By May 2020, we expect to run a trial to divert household kitchen food waste. This trial will help inform us on the best methods of kitchen food waste diversion for Wellingtonians.

    There are some things YOU can do now to help us divert the waste that comes to the Southern Landfill.

    • Separate out your green waste – keep green waste separate from other waste. We can divert green waste to make compost at the Southern Landfill.

    • Keep building waste separate – separated wood can be dropped off at the Tip Shop. We can resell this timber. Metals can be dropped off at our scrap metal bin for free.

    • Stop by the Tip Shop before going to the transfer station or the tip face. We may be able to take some of your old furniture and sell it on to someone who needs it.

    • Take some time to understand what can and can’t be recycled, separate these out and use the Council’s free kerbside recycling collection service.

    • If you have large amounts of recyclable material, more than what can be taken as part of our kerbside recycling service, come to the Tip Shop at the Southern Landfill. We have bottle banks, paper/cardboard bins and plastic bins for you to drop off your recycling for free.

    • If you have a good idea on how to divert even more waste and are willing to make it work as a business, apply for one of our waste minimisation seed funds. We have funded successful diversion businesses like Again and Again.

    • If you hire businesses to do work on your behalf, e.g. a tradesman for a building project, ask them to separate any waste they produce to help with diversion and try to reuse material wherever possible.

    For more about what can be recycled visit https://wellington.govt.nz/services/environment-and-waste/rubbish-and-recycling/top-tips-for-rubbish-and-recycling

    For more about the Tip Shop visit https://www.facebook.com/TipShopWellington/ or https://www.trademe.co.nz



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  • Rubbish to Electricity

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    9 months ago

    When we put waste into a landfill, our microbial friends naturally start eating up the waste. As they consume the waste, they tend to produce methane as a by-product, similar to what happens in a cow’s stomach.

    It is important to point out that this is a natural anaerobic process that occurs to anything organic we throw away, bury and allow to decompose, regardless of whether it is in a landfill or in your backyard.

    Generally methane is contained within a landfill by the placement of a clay cap, a layer of clay that we place above the waste that contains the gasses within the landfill.

    This ‘cap’ is not completely airtight and as the gas builds up under it, some of the landfill gasses escape into the air. This can cause unpleasant odours but more importantly, it also allows methane, a known greenhouse gas, to escape into the air.

    Methane is about 100 times worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. At the Southern Landfill, we recognise this is not ideal for the environment and our neighbours.

    The Wellington City Council and its partners, Nova Gas, have installed gas wells to ’suck ‘ the gas through pipes and burn it in a generator to produce electricity, much like a petrol generator. The generation process does produce carbon dioxide but this is much better for the environment than releasing methane.

    We currently have around 16 operating gas wells around the various stages of the landfill powering a 1 Megawatt generator that sends the power into the national electricity grid to power up houses heating and electric cars/buses.

    As a landfill gets older, it produces less and less methane as the bugs eat all the waste. Over a period of 50 years, we expect landfills to produce only small amounts of gas and to ‘stabilise’. Because of this, over time it may become uneconomic to continue to suck the gas to produce electricity at the Southern Landfill.

    When this occurs, the land can be repurposed for other uses but not housing. Most sports playing fields in Wellington are built on old landfills. With the appropriate infrastructure and a bit of work, these old landfills can be used as recreational areas for everyone to enjoy.


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  • The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff

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    10 months ago

    When we talk to Wellingtonians, we frequently get asked, “Why aren’t you reducing the waste coming to the Landfill”?

    Waste comes to us from various sources. For some waste there is no alternative because it’s too dangerous to handle, e.g. asbestos waste, and the Southern Landfill is the safest disposal site.

    For other waste, like kitchen waste or construction waste, there are alternatives to landfilling but the challenge is for industry to set up affordable processing schemes and for us to support these initiatives when they become available.

    Regionally, we currently send 600kg of rubbish per person to landfills every year. Some of this waste could potentially be diverted but either the disposer decides not to separate out the recyclable waste or there are no readily available diversion options.

    The Landfill is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Once the rubbish gets here, we have to accept it and deal with it.

    We can all do more to reduce our waste, but it takes a concerted effort and we may have to change the way we act and how we live.

    A good starting point is to change the way we purchase our groceries. Only buy sufficient food for the week, shop to menus, purchase choices without excess or any packaging. This reduces food and packaging waste.

    Other ideas include:

    • If you have a garden, home composting of your food scraps.

    • Separating out the recycling correctly – kerbside recycling is provided in Wellington City. This reduces material that could have been recycled going to Landfill.

    • Drop off e-waste for free at the Southern Landfill.

    • Re-use, refurbish or resell old furniture.

    • Fix appliances rather than buying new ones. Check out the Tip Shop account on Trade Me, we sell a whole lot of spare parts for vacuum cleaners and computer parts.

    To find out more about recycling in Wellington City go to https://wellington.govt.nz/services/environment-and-waste/rubbish-and-recycling/top-tips-for-rubbish-and-recycling

    For more about the Tip Shop visit https://www.facebook.com/TipShopWellington/ or https://www.trademe.co.nz

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  • The why - room for rubbish is running out

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    10 months ago

    The existing stage of the Landfill will be full in approximately four years.

    • Our resource consent for the current stage of the Landfill expires in April 2026.

    • The Southern Landfill is operating in Stage 3 of its development with the proposed extension (Stage 4) needed to provide an additional 2.5 million m3 of landfill.

    We want to know what Wellingtonians value to help us assess the alternatives to landfill and how we manage the waste, sewage and contaminated material of our growing city in the future.

    Any solution will include our current waste diversion initiatives and be flexible enough to do more of these in the future.

    Currently the Southern Landfill

    • diverts approximately 8,000 tonnes of waste from the Landfill each year

    • funds kerbside recycling

    • funds free recycling drop-off at the Southern Landfill

    This means a total of almost 11,500 tonnes is diverted from waste each year. (See our article on the Southern Landfill for more information)

    The Council thinks extending the Landfill is the best way forward but would like to test this assumption by looking at alternatives including:

    • closing the Landfill and/or the Transfer station

    • building a waste-to-energy plant

    • using biological processes

    • heat treatment

    Looking forward, we believe that things will change, and if landfilling is still the most viable solution for now, we think it will only be an interim step towards a future without landfills.


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  • What is the Southern Landfill?

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    10 months ago

    The Southern Landfill is a Council-owned and operated landfill located at 201 Landfill Road off Happy Valley Road. The site was opened in 1974 and is currently in the third stage of a multi-stage development. It sits on land specifically set aside in the District Plan for landfilling, with around 100 years of filling space left.

    The Southern Landfill is a critical part of the city’s public health and sanitation infrastructure, dealing with the city’s waste, sewage and disposal of contaminated material (e.g. asbestos) from developments. It also forms part of the city’s resilience network, providing an area under the direct control of the Council to dispose of large amounts of demolition waste in case of a possible natural disaster.

    Surpluses from the Southern Landfill subsidise recycling collection services, green-waste diversion to produce compost, the Tip Shop and other waste-minimisation activities to the tune of $6 million dollars per annum. We would need to find other ways to pay for these services if the Landfill stopped operating.

    Any solution we come up with will include our current waste-diversion initiatives and be flexible enough to do more of these in the future. Currently the Southern Landfill diverts approximately 8,000 tonnes of waste from the Landfill each year. This consists of:

    · Green waste diverted to compost – approximately 5,800 tonnes a year

    · Food waste diverted to compost – approximately 1,600 tonnes per year

    · Scrap metal diversion – approximately 575 tonnes each year

    · Salvaged material from the transfer station and voluntary drop-offs of material to the Tip Shop for resale – estimated at 250 tonnes per year.

    The Landfill also funds kerbside recycling and a free recycling drop-off at the Southern Landfill. This diverts approximately 11,500 tonnes of recyclable material from waste each year.


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  • Options for the future of waste management

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    10 months ago

    The current stage of the Southern Landfill has only 4 years capacity remaining so we are looking into a range of alternatives.

    We will be checking the alternatives against a set of values, including costs, environmental impacts, track records in similar locations to Wellington and the time required from decision to getting the technology fully up and running. Click here to find out more about the values we will be using.

    Click here to read more detailed information about the alternatives.

    · Closure of the existing Southern Landfill and transfer station, with waste being sent directly to other landfills

    · Closure of the existing Southern Landfill and continued operation of the Southern Landfill transfer station, with waste transported to another landfill

    · Extension of the existing Southern Landfill into the next stage

    · Conventional (mass burn) incineration, including any pre-sorting required to make this option viable

    · Advanced thermal treatment (gasification, pyrolysis), including any pre-sorting required to make this option viable

    · Mechanical heat treatment combining mechanical sorting and heat treatment technologies to maximise recycling and reuse from general waste and processing the remainder

    · Mechanical biological treatment an integrated system of several mechanical and biological processes run alongside a materials recovery facility to remove unsuitable materials



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