- Physical impacts and adaptation
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Disposal facility operators are mandatory participants in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Theyy:
From 1 January 2013 some disposal facility operators will be exempt if their landfill sites qualify as small and remote (see Which disposal facility operators are exempt from the ETS?).
The Climate Change Response Act 2002 defines disposal facilities in the following way:
Disposal facility means any facility including a landfill that operates (at least in part) as a business to dispose of waste, at which:
- waste is disposed, and
- the waste disposed includes waste from a household that is not entirely from construction, renovation, or demolition of a house.
A facility (or any part of a facility) at which waste is combusted for the purpose of generating electricity or industrial heat is not considered a disposal facility.
This definition is similar to the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. Effectively, if a landfill site is currently subject to the waste disposal levy, then its operator is also a mandatory participant in the ETS. Operators of other types of waste-related facilities, such as cleanfills or sewage treatment facilities, are not currently ETS participants.
An exemption will be available for all landfills that have been in operation since before 1 January 2012 and either:
The exemption comes into force on 1 January 2013. After that date, landfill operators will have no further obligations for sites that are exempt. This also means they will not be required to submit an emission return for the 2012 calendar year.
Landfill operators who believe they may be exempt should contact the Environmental Protection Authority.
Under the ETS waste regulations, disposal facility operators are responsible only for methane emissions from their facilities. They are not responsible for any other greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills or other methods of waste disposal.
Although landfills also emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide from waste decomposition, these emissions are not part of New Zealand’s international obligations and do not incur any ETS obligations.
The methodology in the regulations does not require disposal facility operators to estimate emissions from historical waste. They are only required to calculate potential emissions from the waste disposed in a particular year.
No. Disposal facilities are sources of emissions. They are not trade exposed and can pass on any increased costs arising from the ETS to their customers.
However, some landfills are participants in the Projects to Reduce Emissions (PRE) scheme and have agreements with the Crown to deliver emission reductions up to the end of 2012. These landfill operators have Registry accounts and receive emission units. The PRE scheme is not open for new applications and will end with the existing project agreements.
Cleanfills are not included in the ETS and will not be included unless they meet the definition of a “disposal facility” in the Climate Change Response Act 2002.
At this stage, there is no policy intention to extend ETS coverage to emissions from cleanfills.
A review of the waste disposal levy was undertaken in July 2011.
The ETS will favour landfill operators who can find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through developing or applying new technology or managing organic waste. For example, operators who use landfill gas to produce electricity or divert timber, paper, food and garden waste from landfills will reduce the emissions from their site and therefore face lower ETS costs.
Under the Waste Minimisation Act (New Zealand legislation website), the Waste Minimisation Fund provides a funding source to landfill operators for activities that increase resource efficiency, reuse, recovery and recycling, and decrease waste to landfill.
Last updated: 3 December 2012