The Government should invest in building a waste to energy plant south of Auckland.
Landfills are the least preferable option for rubbish disposal, and with new technologies, waste to energy plants have the potential to be carbon negative.
In addition the government should pass legislation requiring at least 60% of waste to be re-processed by 2025 rather than being dumped into landfills.
A planned new rubbish dump site in the Dome Valley will cover 1000 hectares and, in addition to being a blot on the landscape, will waste an enormous resource that could be turned into profit.
While the vast majority of waste collected in New Zealand goes into rubbish dumps, waste to energy plants like those in Norway recycle a much greater amount of usable material from the waste stream, and what is left is burnt at very high temperatures and turned into energy.
Emissions from the new generation plants are negligible, while rubbish dumps generated methane, said to be the worst of greenhouse gases, CO2, and have the possibility of leaching into waterways, killing fish and plant life.
A plant south of Auckland would be close to New Zealand’s fastest growing cities, and take rubbish from the whole of the country. Railways could carry the bulk of the load with a combination of rail and coastal shipping handling South Island rubbish.
This would take large numbers of heavy trucks off the road and be far more efficient, less polluting and make roads safer for other users. In the case of the Dome Valley site, that would mean 300 fewer return trips by truck and trailer units on the main road North daily.
Carbon capture is underway in Norway as is production of fuel from captured carbon in Canada.
Government rhetoric about climate change, waste reduction, and road safety won’t cut it. It needs to take action now.