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Landfills: A marvel of modern engineering

Safely and responsibly managing waste is what we do at Waste Management.

We’re especially proud of our modern, engineered landfills which are among the best in the world.

Aotearoa's waste needs

While Aotearoa’s communities, businesses and the waste industry strive to minimise the amount of waste generated and then to recycle as much of this as possible, there remains a need to safely contain what cannot be recycled.

The most sustainable, environmentally responsible solution available to New Zealand is landfill.

Modern landfills play an important role in protecting our environment and are nothing like the legacy “dumps” of the past.

Some facts you might not be aware of:

  • Our landfills capture over 90% of the gas produced from the waste and convert it to electricity to feed into the national grid – enough to power 24,000 homes in 2020!
  • A complex lining system contains the waste to prevent any liquid runoff escaping
  • Leachate (liquid from the waste) is captured and continuously removed for treatment by evaporation, which removes the risk of it entering ground water and local streams
  • Waste is compacted as it is placed and the operating tip face is covered at the end of each day to control pests, litter and odour
  • The surrounding environment benefits. For example, at our proposed Auckland Regional Landfill there will be 29km of riparian planting, 121 hectares of new native trees and 900 hectares of pest control on Waste Management and Department of Conservation land. At our Redvale Landfill & Energy Park wetlands surrounding the landfill are popular with bird life and have even attracted the at-risk weweia (dabchick). At Kate Valley Landfill & Energy Park we’ve been actively involved in restoring the nearby Tiromoana Bush for 15 years through pest control and planting
  • At the end of a landfill’s life, it becomes available as an open space for recreation or light commercial activities.

Alternatives to landfill

There are currently no viable alternatives to landfill available for disposal of large quantities of waste.

There has been some discussion around the suitability of waste-to-energy incineration, but this technology is generally used in large, densely populated cities and towns in Europe and Asia where there is a continuous and immense feed of waste. This goes against the aspirations we have in New Zealand for waste reduction.

In addition, unlike modern landfills, which capture greenhouse gas emissions, incineration involves the burning of plastics (carbon) which would impact on New Zealand’s carbon footprint and global emissions and also impede our progress towards achieving the targets agreed to in the Paris Agreement.

Finally, not all wastes can be incinerated, and incinerators also still produce waste (ash) that is generally taken to a hazardous landfill for safe disposal.

Watch our video above to learn more and take a look at some of the below photographs to get a feel for what a modern, engineered landfill is really like.

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Waste is compacted as it is placed, and the operating tip face is covered at the end of each day

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At modern landfills, such as our Redvale Landfill & Energy Park in Auckland, wetlands surrounding the landfill are popular with bird life. We’ve even been thrilled to see the at-risk weweia (dabchick) take up residence at Redvale.

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Using gas engine and electric generators like these pictured at Redvale, Waste Management’s landfill and energy parks can currently power the equivalent of 24,000 homes with renewable energy.

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Before (2004)

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After (2019)

Over the years Waste Management has been actively involved in regenerating Tiromoana Bush near Kate Valley Landfill & Energy Park. It’s been a hugely successful project, with before and after photos (above) showing the difference over 15 years.

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Pictured behind Redvale Landfill & Energy Park is a neighbouring aubergine greenhouse complex, which the landfill provides energy to for heating and hot water.

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This construction of a new landfill cell at Kate Valley Landfill & Energy Park shows the complex lining system going into place.

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Sediment control ponds at Redvale Landfill & Energy Park, with an area that has stopped receiving waste and has its final soil cap in the background.