Wellington Scoop

Four more years and the southern landfill will be full – what then?


News from WCC
With only four years left until the Southern Landfill is full, it’s time to talk about what we do next with our waste.

The Southern Landfill is critical to the smooth-running of our city and providing infrastructure for Wellington’s sanitation and ensuring public health. Currently the landfill accepts about 100,000 tonnes of waste per annum, including 15,000 tonnes of sewage sludge, which is transported to the landfill by pipe from Moa Point. It funds $6million of waste minimisation and recycling services every year, and provides resilience for waste disposal in the event of a natural disaster or major contamination incident.

Based on current estimates, and not accounting for an extraordinary event like a natural disaster, the Southern Landfill has approximately four years of capacity left.

The Southern Landfill is currently operating in Stage 3 of its multi-stage development, with the proposed extension (Stage 4) set to provide an additional 2.5 million m3 of landfill.

The Council is recommending extending the landfill as the best way forward, but would like to test this assumption by looking at what alternatives are around.

The alternatives that will be looked at include closing it, building a waste-to-energy plant; or using biological processes.

Waste Operations Manager Emily Taylor Hall is looking forward to engaging with the community and stakeholders to consider the proposal and options.

“We know that attitudes towards waste are changing and disposing of waste will be different in the future, but we believe landfilling is still the most viable solution in the meantime,” she says. “We are investigating what’s available to see if we can invest in alternative technology. This will be part of the conversation we have when we meet with the local community and stakeholders over the next 8 months.”

The Wellington City Council is committed to reducing waste. Regionally its target is to reduce waste from 600kg per person per year to 400kg per person by 2026. That still leaves the city with significant waste that needs to be managed.

This work is part of Council’s Resilience and Environment priority set out in the 10-year plan to invest in the city’s environment and key infrastructure.


  1. Dan, 26. August 2019, 15:59

    BAU is not an option. Make sure this is future proofed now. None of us want our kids living in our rubbish.

  2. Curtis Antony Nixon, 26. August 2019, 16:26

    We need to replace landfills with total waste recycling plants that turn garbage into usable resources. The technology exists but the will and determination is lacking. There are pyrolitic converters which can extract the hydrocarbons from wood, plastic, cotton, paper, tyres or anything containing carbohydrate or petroleum-based substances. Experiments have shown that mealworms can digest polystyrene. Glass, steel and aluminum can already be 100% recycled.

    What we need is council managers and politicians who understand that total recycling is possible, and who are willing to overcome the current business as usual mindset condemning our environment to degradation and destruction.

  3. Derek, 26. August 2019, 17:22

    Suggest you make this a mayoral election issue in Wellington to get some public debate going.

  4. Steve Rogers, 26. August 2019, 17:28

    With these politicians, it’s amazing that they’re not pushing the agenda of dumping all waste into the ocean, out-of-sight out of mind backward thinking. Willing to spend millions of dollars on puffed up projects to bring their own Glory.

  5. NigelTwo, 26. August 2019, 17:32

    Four years. That is one and bit electoral cycles. The talking will still be going, on and on…
    BAU is the only option. Might get a transfer station at a rail-head so Wellington can dump their junk elsewhere?
    Are the 80K proposed new Wellingtonians going to be trash-free? I doubt it.

  6. Wellington.Scoop, 26. August 2019, 18:39

    They do not make it clear in their news release, but the WCC are seeking a Resource Consent to extend the “life” of the Southern Landfill by approximately 20 years.

  7. Iona Pannett, 26. August 2019, 21:11

    I have led the Council’s attempts to reduce waste, so not supporting extending our dump’s life. We need alternatives and I will continue to work for those! [via twitter]

  8. Jane C, 27. August 2019, 7:17

    The attempts by the Council to recycle waste are lame. The “alternative” was to heavily recycle at the landfill, try to convince the corporations to reduce their heavy packaging, and set up recycling plants. The Council permitted the destruction of a historic home which also went to landfill. Not impressed.

  9. Hot Mess, 27. August 2019, 8:59

    Can we not have an organic/food waste collection as part of the waste services along with recycling and general waste? This has been available in Australia for years. NZ likes to talk a big game when it comes to being green but they don’t act on it. Look at south Australia as well with their bottle and carton recycling refund scheme. 10c per item makes people think twice about chucking them in the trash.

  10. Micky, 27. August 2019, 10:04

    Rotting smelly food on the street would be a Hot Smelly Mess. Everyone can and should compost their own food waste.
    The reduction of food waste is primary – other nations have developed policies to make supermarkets donate best-before foods to people and orgs that feed the hungry and poor. Along with recycling, reducing the amount of food wrappers is a good idea. Most cereal boxes and food containers are twice as big as contents.

  11. Benoit Pette, 28. August 2019, 10:41

    What is more urgent? We could do the right thing, and get a waste to energy plant, or a recycling facility for soft plastic … but we’ll do the cheap things, cos’, you know, it’s just cheaper. Meanwhile, $179M is spent on the convention centre. Priorities. [via twitter]

  12. Jane C, 28. August 2019, 14:05

    Iona Pannett: Stop printing those annoying and useless ” Our Wellington” booklets. They are environmentally unsound and many end up unread in the landfill.
    There is a website to promote the Council and we also have an events website, so the printed booklets are another case of the WCC actively creating waste .