This case dealt with the statutory interpretation of the term “waste”. The applicant was sentenced in the Environment Court for using his land as a landfill without the necessary resource consent and, therefore, for committing an offence against s9 of the Resource Management Act 1991.
The applicant argued there was no evidence that material dumped on the land was waste and that, therefore, the Judge erred in finding the charge proved.
The definition of “waste” according to the Resource Management Act was: “Waste means any contaminant whether liquid, solid, gaseous, or radioactive, which is discharged, emitted, or deposited in the environment in such volume, constituency or manner as to cause an adverse effect on the environment and which includes all unwanted and economically unusable by-products at any given place or time and any other matter which may be discharged, accidentally or otherwise, to the environment.”
The court interpreted the term “waste” and the question whether unwanted by-products had to be in the environment in such a manner as to cause an adverse effect. Did the qualifying elements of the first part of the definition apply equally to the second part? It concluded that the second part of the definition was selfcontained because in the view of the court this part of the definition captured the ordinary meaning of waste.
The materials deposited on the applicants’ land included solid landfill or waste as that term was generally understood, often described as half fill materials or inert waste. Thus at least some of the materials in question comprised waste in terms of the second part of the definition. According to the court there was no need to go further and demonstrate that the material was deposited in such a manner as to cause an adverse effect on the environment. It was sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a landfill containing solid waste, as defined in the second part of the definition. The appeal against conviction was dismissed.