Work to minimise cost of ETS

Dunedin's work on waste diversion, and its project to use gas from its Green Island landfill to create electricity, should mean it pays a minimum amount under the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

For the Dunedin City Council and other local authorities, 2012 brings a requirement to collect details of landfill gases for the scheme, and to prepare waste assessments for waste minimisation and management plans.

From 2013, it will have to start paying, but council solid waste manager Ian Featherston said that will not add to rates.

Instead, it would add a cost at the landfill gate, but that should only be an extra 2%.

Councils that own landfills must report their emissions, and begin paying for them from 2013 by buying carbon units.

At $15 per carbon unit, the cost would be up to $165,000 a year for 10,000 tonnes of waste to landfill.

In Dunedin, the council has been working for some time to collect methane, and in 2009, after schemes that did not work, it began burning off the gas it started collecting in a $2.5 million scheme.

The plan is for the gas to be piped to the nearby Green Island wastewater treatment plant, where it would be used as a power source, and Mr Featherston said that should begin in March.

The council has six bores at the site, and at the moment they are being flared.

Burning produces carbon dioxide, which is 20 times less harmful than methane.

Mr Featherston said any waste going to landfill would be recorded, with every tonne of waste considered to produce 1.1 tonne of equivalent carbon emissions.

The highest emissions were from the likes of organic waste and timber products, but because the council diverted green waste from the landfill, it would reduce the amount it had to pay.

Under the ETS, the council can apply for "unique emissions factors" which can reduce the amount paid.

"From January we have to collect the information, then report it in 2013, then start paying.

"That will cost, but not rates, it will be an added charge at the landfill gate."

The added charge would be only about 2%.

As well, under the Waste Act, the council was required to do a waste minimisation plan.

The plan would consider waste streams Dunedin had, and the council's focus for the next 10 to 20 years.

Consultation for the plan was expected to start in April, and had to be complete by July.


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