Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is rubbishing suggestions an increase in the landfill levy will unfairly hit landlords in the pocket.
Currently it costs $10 a tonne to send waste to landfill - a levy that hasn't changed in a decade. The Government has proposed bumping that up to $60 a tonne by 2023, with the proceeds going towards improving recycling services.
"We've got to stop burying our waste under the ground," Goff told The AM Show on Thursday.
"We've got to look at reusing, recycling, recovering more of that waste. We produce more waste per head of population in this country than almost any other developed the nation. I hate to say the Australians lead us in anything, but they recover 55 percent of their waste - we recover 35 percent. That's what this levy is about."
Different states across the Tasman have different rates, but can reach as high as NZ$210 a tonne.
"A lot of people think there's illegal dumping that's going to happen because of that, but most of the international reports show it doesn't happen," Zero Waste Network chair Marty Hoffart told Newshub, saying we're years behind.
"The higher the levy, the more it helps the recyclers and the less that goes to landfill. We've got one of the highest disposal rates on the planet - we've got to do something about it. We've got to make landfilling more expensive."
The proposed rate of $60 a tonne would cost households about 33c a week, according to the Ministry for the Environment - about the price of a single movie ticket per year.
But AM Show host Duncan Garner and sportsreader Mark Richardson took issue with the plan to add it as a targeted rate, rather than add it to the cost of a bin or bag. Garner suggested it would "break the bank" of some homeowners, and Richardson - a property investor - balked at having to pay for his tenants' rubbish collection, suggesting he'd have to put rents up by $5 a week to compensate.
Goff said it wasn't possible at this stage to simply charge it per bag, because different parts of the city have different methods of paying for rubbish collection.
"You'll charge whatever rent you can probably get from the market. 33c a week, come on guys. We're talking about our environment... You're surely not telling me we shouldn't incentivise people to recycle instead of burying their waste? That's yesterday's world."
He said a survey conducted by the Ministry for the Environment showed "overwhelming" support for the change.
The ACT Party called it "the eighth time the Government has broken Jacinda Ardern's promise to introduce no new taxes".
"An increase in the landfill levy follows higher fuel taxes, a regional fuel tax, higher road user charges, extending the 'bright line test' to five years, ringfencing rental losses, a visitor tax, and higher tobacco taxes," leader David Seymour said.
Of those, the regional fuel tax was actually implemented by Auckland Council (with the Government's approval) and the visitor tax isn't charged on New Zealanders. The others aren't new, and in the case of tobacco and fuel taxes, are regularly increased by Governments on both sides.