Ill effects seen for levy rise

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by Chris Tobin

When a government plan to increase the landfill waste levy goes ahead next year, expect to see more old cars and whiteware dumped in riverbeds and along roads, a Timaru recycler says.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has announced the waste levy will rise from $10 a tonne to $20 by July next year, then to $60 by 2024. From 2022, the levy will also be extended to include construction and demolition landfill.

Timaru Metal Recyclers owner John Hepburn said it was totally impractical and could force him to shut down his public dumping bays.

The New Zealand Association of Metal Recyclers, of which he is a member, had asked for an exemption to any waste levy increases for shredder floc, the waste left over when metals were shredded.

Ms Sage rejected the request.

Mr Hepburn and other metal recyclers around New Zealand shredded car bodies and whiteware (known as shredder feed) to recover metals for export.

The shredder floc — pulverised pieces of non›metals such as plastics, rubber and glass — went to landfills.

If businesses such as Mr Hepburn’s had to pay more to dump the shredder floc, it would not be economically viable, he said.

‘‘At the moment we run three bays 24 hours a day with whiteware, steel and non› plastics and a car dump.’’

The bays were located on land at Redruth that he leased from the Timaru District Council.

‘‘Right now I’m not making money on it. What will happen in the long term [after the waste levy rises] is that it will no longer be viable. The public will lose this facility.’’

In its submission to the Government regarding the waste levy, the NZ Association of Metal Recyclers said the collection of stripped car bodies and whiteware was marginal and any increase to the levy would negatively impact ‘‘on capture of these items for recycling’’.

‘‘Shredder feed materials will decrease and this has already been the case in New South Wales.

‘‘Lower volumes of materials to shredders results in higher per›tonne costs, which further depresses the ability of the public to be paid for their materials, which is a major incentive for recycling.

‘‘This reduces tonnages and a downward spiral is projected.’’

Each week, Mr Hepburn received large volumes of whiteware and about two or three cars. Also, he collected whiteware and recyclable steel from around South Canterbury.

‘‘Between 400 to 500 tonnes goes through the Timaru facility each year and about half of that is what comes across the pad.’’

A big issue he expected in the future would be the dumping of lithium batteries from electric cars and cellphones.

‘‘They can self combust and burst into flames.’’