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How is the Waste sector affected by the NZ ETS?

Since 2013, disposal facility operators have had an obligation to report their emissions and surrender New Zealand Units (NZUs) under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

A disposal facility is any facility including a landfill that operates as a business to dispose of waste and whose waste stream contains some element of household waste. This does not include cleanfills, sewage treatment facilities or facilities at which waste is combusted for the purposes of generating electricity or industrial heat.

Disposal facility operators are responsible only for methane emitted through the biodegradation of organic waste in their facilities.


Participants in the Waste sector are required to record information about the gross tonnage of waste entering their landfill facility in a year and submit this as part of their annual emissions return. This figure is then multiplied by an emissions factor that estimates the emissions per tonne of waste to give a total emissions figure.
Once an emissions return has been completed, a Waste participant will be required to surrender emissions units corresponding to the amount of emissions reported to the ETS.

Participants can use a default emissions factor set by the government using data from landfills around the country. If a participant believes that the emissions factor for their landfill should be lower than the default one, they may apply to the EPA for a "Unique Emissions Factor" which reflects the actual emissions from their facility.


Obligations under the ETS do not apply to landfills that have been in operation since before 1 January 2012 and either

  • dispose of less than 1000 tonnes of waste per year and are located at least 150 km away from the nearest modern landfill by land; or
  • dispose of less than 500 tonnes of waste per year and are located at least 75 km away from the nearest modern landfill by land; or
  • are located at least 25 km away from the mainland for offshore islands.

If you believe that your landfill may be exempt under one of these conditions, please contact the EPA using the details below. 


The Waste sector does not receive an allocation of NZUs because landfill operators are not internationally trade exposed and are able to pass the costs of their ETS obligations on to their customers.

Information about Industrial Allocations is available here.

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