Alice Grace unravels the what and the how of waste services.
The next few years will be a busy time for councils as they prepare for their 2018 Long Term Plans and at the same time get on with their Section 17A Reviews. In the waste services area, Waste Assessments and Waste Management and Minimisation Plans reviews are also due. With all this work to do, councils have been asking us here at Morrison Low whether a Section 17A Review is needed for waste services given there is already a need to assess options for their Waste Assessments.
Our view is that both processes need to be completed but there are efficiencies to be gained from integrating the two processes because the two are complementary.
The key difference between the processes is that Waste Assessments are about what waste services are provided whereas Section 17A Reviews are about how waste services are provided.
As an example, a Waste Assessment would assess the options for recycling services such as weekly or fortnightly collections, in crates or in wheelie bins, fully co-mingled or with glass or paper separated. A Section 17A Review would consider whether the recycling service would be provided in-house, contracted out, through a shared service or by council opting out and leaving the private sector to provide the service.
Both the Waste Assessment and Section 17A Review require the cost and funding of the service to be assessed, which means there is overlap in the two processes and in the past many councils have assessed service delivery in their Waste Assessments to enable them to assess costs and funding.
However, they may not have systematically assessed the full suite of service delivery options that Section 17A requires councils to consider, namely:
- By own council and in-house
- By own council and outsourced
- By shared service with another council(s)
- By Council Controlled Organisation owned by council itself or with other councils
- By a party other than council eg, private sector, community group or another council.
Another key difference between Waste Assessments and Section 17A Reviews is the drivers behind the assessment.
For Section 17A Reviews the driver is cost-effectiveness. Section 17A of the Local Government Act 2002 states: “A local authority must review the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions.”
For the Waste Assessment the driver is waste minimisation. Section 42 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 states: “a council must promote effective and efficient waste management and minimization within its district”.
In doing so, the Waste Minimisation Act requires councils to consider the waste hierarchy and reduce, reuse or recycle ahead of recovery, treatment or disposal of their waste. In the Waste Assessment councils are required to consider options available for services and assess their suitability for promoting waste minimisation, not necessarily effective service delivery.
Planning now for the 2018 LTP
Section 17A Reviews and Waste Assessments are a legal requirement. However we see them as more than a tick-box compliance exercise. Our approach is to focus on the community’s needs for waste minimisation services and how to deliver these cost-effectively and efficiently.
So as you look ahead to the 2018 Long Term Plan, now is the time to get some robust planning underway.
• Alice Grace is a senior consultant at Australasian management consultancy Morrison Low. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in the October 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.