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Talking rubbish

Auckland Council is currently hearing submissions on the draft Waste Management and Minimisation plan. Colinda Rowe went along today to speak on behalf of the Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away submission. Here is what she had to say:

“Grey Lynn 2030 is a community organization that facilitates and supports local focus groups working towards a positive, connected, sustainable, resilient community through practical action.

We take our terms of reference from the international Transition Town movement, which encourages local communities to respond to current environmental and economic challenges with positive solutions that tap into the skills and innovation available in the local community.

Grey Lynn 2030 is an active group, with over 1300 direct subscribers to regular updates.  We have focus groups that promote community gardens, traffic calming, waste reduction, regeneration of local streams and more.

One of the most active groups is Waste Away.  We are a group of community volunteers committed to promoting and taking action to reduce waste to landfill in our local community.

Some of our actions to date include:

  • A local e-waste drop-off collection event held in 2009 prior to the inorganic collection which reduced hazardous computer waste disposed of to landfill and enabled its reuse/repair
  • Setting up café/restaurant food waste diversion from landfill by setting up onsite worm farms and a collection/composting system
  • A weekly education stall at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market since 2009, which encourages composting, worm farms and bokashi as well as offering a household battery collection, promotion of reusable coffee cups and information on other waste related matters. We receive real interest from residents wanting access to information about waste minimisation/recycling services or products, for example, options on what to do with foodscraps at home, where they can take e-waste or batteries or lightbulbs, how to set up recycling services at events, when a haz-mobile service or create your own eden course is next happening etc. We provide this sort of information at the farmers market etc but having local facilities, that operate as resource recovery centres, would enable residents and businesses to have access to waste minimisation information and services year round and enable greater engagement with the public on resource efficient initiatives etc etc….
  • Provide recycling at local events such as street parties and festivals

We are currently working with the Grey Lynn Farmers Market to create a zero waste market, which will include recycling options for items such as batteries, light bulbs, mobile phones.  and provide a re-use depot for items such as glass jars, plastic and reusable shopping bags. We will also be working with stall holders to reduce or eliminate packaging that is not recyclable.

Our submission on the draft Auckland Waste Minimisation and Management plan congratulates the council on the plan and we endorse many of the waste minimisation proposals included.

I would like to focus on three points in particular today, being the reduction of waste, a separate organic collection and the inorganic collection.

Reduction of Waste

Reduction of waste is at the top of the waste hierarchy and we believe there should be an emphasis on waste reduction.  We therefore support the council’s aim to reduce waste to landfill by 30% by 2018 and support such schemes as

  • Product stewardship schemes and Container Deposit Legislation (could help reduce some of the issues around comingling of waste)
  • Waste wise school programme assisting schools to reduce their waste and educating students
  • Behaviour change programmes

Separate Organic Collection

We are in agreement with a separate, rates funded organic collection – as per 69% of submissions.

As food and green waste make up around 50% of waste currently going to landfill, a separate bin for food and green waste would contribute greatly to reducing waste to landfill and council’s target to reduce domestic kerbside refuse by 30% by 2018.

We emphasise that good processing options need to be in place, such as composting for re-application back to the land, or energy generation.

We also support the current promotion of home composting should continue such as the Create your Own Eden courses.

Inorganic Waste

Although 72% of submissions agreed with a rates funded inorganic collection, we are against this for the following reasons:

  • Rates-funded inorganic collection goes against disposer-pays philosophy
  • It does not provide any incentive for residents to reduce amount of waste they produce
  • Inorganic collection does not encourage Product Stewardship schemes while councils fund an easy alternative
  • Surveys show that 30% to 50% of inorganic material is reusable or recyclable while a rate of less than 10% is achieved and that is achieved by scavenging
  • Commercial scavengers break and damage and take items to remove valuable metals.  The breaking of fridges, air conditioners and dehumidifiers creates environmental hazards by releasing toxic pollutants such as CFCs, HCFC, and HFC into the atmosphere
  • If taken to Resource Recover Centres (which are not yet set up), some items could be resold helping pay for recycling services and provide community with access to low cost goods
  • Cost – It costs the Auckland region $5.3 million annually for inorganic waste.
  • We support reallocating the funds used for inorganic collection to develop infrastructure in the region that supports maximum resource recovery. Savings made by cancelling inorganic collections, waste levy funds, and the sale of recovered materials, could be used to support Resource Recovery Networks across the region
    where businesses and residents could drop off unwanted materials

Should the inorganic collection continue, we believe this should be under a booking system and only until a Resource Recovery Network is established.

Lastly, we firmly believe in localised solutions for communities.  We should foster new ideas for community waste minimisation initiatives and if particular communities are able to provide collection services that offer local jobs and support community based systems, council should enable these to be considered.”