Rural Waste Minimisation
Environment Canterbury, in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment, other regional councils and stakeholder groups, is currently undertaking a three year project to improve rural waste management practices across New Zealand.
In 2013 we undertook several studies to help gain an understanding of the quantities and types of waste being generated on farms in the Canterbury region. Fifty three farms, over a cross section of farm types, were surveyed to gather data on the amount of waste produced each year, and how that waste was being disposed.
The surveys identified over 50 different waste streams including things like plastic, treated timber, hazardous waste, animal health products, seed/feed bags and tyres. On average, farms were producing nearly 10 tonnes of non-natural rural waste each year in addition to domestic waste and animal remains. The surveys also confirmed that the majority of farmers use burning, burial and bulk storage to manage disposal of waste on farms.
In 2014, Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils replicated the surveys in their regions and received similar results in terms of waste types, quantities and disposal methods.
The studies demonstrated that the main barriers to effective rural waste minimisation are:
- Legacy farmer behaviour – it was acceptable in the past to burn and bury waste.
- Convenience - it is convenient to burn and bury wastes on farm in terms of time, cost and effort required.
- Lack of alternatives - there is a lack of widely available, low-cost practical alternatives to disposing of wastes on farm.
Further research shows that most farmers want to protect their legacy and want to use more sustainable ways to manage disposal of farm waste.
In order to address these issues, Environment Canterbury is leading a multi-phase project to find and implement solutions to promote waste minimisation within the rural sector. A key driver for the project is the development of collaborative, practical, solution-focussed options for managing sustainable rural waste. The project focus is on encouraging long term behaviour change rather than taking a regulatory approach. Industry representatives from across the sector and across New Zealand are involved in project delivery.
The project will be delivered across three project phases:
1. Risk assessment and waste prioritisation (February 2015 - September 2015)
2. Waste minimisation options and feasibility study (October 2015 - March 2017)
3. Options implementation and communication strategy (March 2017 - December 2017)
The key risks identified were:
- Bioaccumulation (build up) of contaminants in the ecosystem;
- Leaching of soil contamination into groundwater and nearby waterways;
- Quantities of wastes produced, particularly chemical wastes in dairy and horticultural activities;
- Release of toxic gases from burning of wastes.
A lack of waste minimisation options was identified as a major barrier to improving waste minimisation in rural areas.
The findings of phase one helped to inform the second phase which focuses on identifying a robust suite of simple, cost‐effective options for farmers and growers to help improve rural waste minimisation.
Identified options and solutions are based on simplifying waste streams into Hazardous Wastes (such as agrichemicals and sharps), High Volume Recyclables (such as hard and soft plastics) and Low Volume Recyclables (such as vehicle batteries and oil filters). These streams were then split in terms of strategic approach between Low Volume Users and High Volume Users. Under the model the broad strategy for high volume users is on farm collection, and for low volume users the strategy is the provision of a range of drop-off points for waste.
Completed reports can be viewed here:
- Non-natural Farm Waste Scoping Study Report R12/51 (5.5 MB)
- Regional Assessment Report R12/74 (4.9 MB)
Farm surveys summary report and full report
- Non-natural Rural Wastes Site Survey Data Analysis Report: Summary Report R13/97 (2.7 MB)
- Non-natural Rural Wastes Site Survey Data Analysis Report: Full Report R13/52 (6.1 MB)
- The Waikato and Bay of Plenty survey report can be found on the Waikato Regional Council website.
Phase 1 Risk Assessment and Waste Prioritisation
- Risk Assessment - Summary Report (1.2 MB)
- Rural Waste Risk Assessment and Waste Prioritisation (12 MB)
- Initial report to identify methodologies to assess the environmental risks associated with non-natural rural waste R14/58 (2.2 MB)
Phase 2 Waste minimisation options and feasibility study
- Milestone 2: Situational Analysis and Preliminary Economic and Technical Assessment (3.2 MB)
- Milestone 3: Exploration of Potential Waste Minimisation Options (Oct 2016) (2.7mb).pdf
Further project reports will be published as they are produced.