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 Emergency Management Team

In response to the immediate issues of overlapping jurisdictions, an interagency group was established to address the movement and disposal of waste.

The Combined Health and Environmental Risks Programme Control Group (CHER) was made up of Territorial Local Authorities, Canterbury District Health Board, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and WorkSafe NZ.  With a mandate to address the operational issues across the construction and demolition sector, CHER recognised the need for an operational team, through which the Waste and Environmental Management Team (WEMT) was established.

WEMT provided the necessary regulatory oversight, ensuring the effects of the rebuild were minimised. As the officers on the ground, the team addressed issues around the containment, collection and disposal of earthquake waste and rubble following the Canterbury earthquakes.

In 2017 WEMT’s role in earthquake recovery was successfully concluded with compliance returning to local jurisdictions.

Developing a Disaster Waste Management Plan

Environment Canterbury and project partners Waikato Regional Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have been working together on the development of a tool to plan for and manage disaster waste.

Following an initial scoping study and research report the current phase of works has produced a working template to support those involved in managing waste in a disaster response.

Please see the latest documents including;

This has been made possible with funding from the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Continued development of the above documents is ongoing, if you have any feedback or would like to know more, please get in contact via customer services on 03 353 9007.

Waste management projects

Kaikōura/Hurunui Earthquake Waste Project

Environment Canterbury has coordinated a project, funded by the Ministry for the Environment, to support those in the Hurunui and Kaikoura Districts affected by the November 2016 earthquake.

Activities under the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Waste Project included the repair of damaged infrastructure in each district, staffing to support earthquake recovery, and community liaison services to support the correct disposal of hazardous materials, including asbestos. Hazardous substances such as pesticides and fuels were also collected and disposed of.

For more information on community support available see:

Project completion

The project was successfully completed in March 2019.  It included more than 465 asbestos surveys, 23 tonnes of hazardous substances collected and disposed of appropriately, and $1.09m invested in waste collection infrastructure across North Canterbury. The project focussed on the affected local communities, providing collection services and raising awareness around correct disposal and waste minimisation.

Total expenditure for the project was $1.94 million, This was provided through funding from the Ministry for the Environment's Waste Minimisation Fund and in-kind contributions from Kaikoura District Council, Hurunui District Council, and Environment Canterbury.

Canterbury Residential Red Zone Household Hazardous Waste Project

The Canterbury Residential Red Zone Household Hazardous Waste Project was developed to support earthquake recovery by enabling the collection and appropriate disposal of hazardous materials from residential properties 'red-zoned' across Christchurch City and Waimakariri District prior to demolition.

In 2011, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and Waimakariri District Council formed a working group to address the significant volume of household hazardous waste orphaned through the compulsory demolition of approximately 8000 residential properties.

The result was a coordinated cross agency approach for safely managing the collection and disposal of this hazardous material, enabling the safe demolition of the red zoned properties.

The project commenced in 2012 and aimed to collect an estimated 100 tonnes of hazardous substances from the red zoned properties.

Project completion

The project was successfully completed in 2015.  With over 334 tonnes of household hazardous waste collected and disposed of appropriately.  This material included 200 tonnes dropped off at council transfer stations and 134 tonnes collected directly from the red zoned properties.

Total expenditure for the project was $1.16 million, This was provided through funding from the Ministry for the Environment's Waste Minimisation Fund and in-kind contributions from Waimakiriri District Council, Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.