Reducing our waste

Green Goals
with Josh Cole
Green Party

Every day there is, somewhere in Tauranga, a line-up of red, yellow, green or blue bins on the streets.

These testify to the work being done by the people in the waste and recycling department in council.

It was informative to hear from two of these people, Nicole Banks and Sam Fellows, at a recent gathering hosted by the local Greens.

Interesting information has flowed since our new kerbside collections were set up.

There has been an awesome reduction of almost 50 per cent in the amount of waste sent to landfill!

This has been achieved by a big effort by Tauranga residents to change the ways we deal with rubbish, encouraged and directed by the commitment of our Council to deal with waste in ways that are better for the environment.

There are even more ways to recycle and reduce waste on the council website.

However, with the inevitable impact of Covid on these services, there is now more contamination of food in recycling.

An education programme is being carried out by an employee whose job is to check what is in yellow bins on the roadside, and attach a green, yellow or red tag.

The green tag indicates the contents are fine and the bin will be collected.

When a yellow or red tag is applied, the officer will approach the residents concerned and offer to show them what they need to do to have the bin collected.

A bin carrying a red sticker will not be collected.

This one-on-one education, although slow, seems to be an effective way of encouraging better ways to recycle waste and in the early days of this new scheme, we will inevitably make mistakes and we need to know how to correct them somehow.

Useful repurposing has been found for all the materials now collected in the yellow bins. Paper goes to Hastings, plastics 2 and 5 are processed in Palmerston North, number 1 plastics go to Wellington, brown and clear glass to Auckland as does steel and aluminium cans.

In the absence of anywhere closer, cardboard is shipped to Indonesia.

It goes to show that reducing our waste in the first instance is still so important, because there’s a lot of carbon being emitted transporting our waste all over the North Island, let alone our cardboard to Indonesia.

It was interesting to hear how the landfill at Hampton Downs is being managed to make it as sustainable as possible.

Among other recycling functions, leachate is collected and used to control dust: methane is used to generate electricity required to run the site. It seems that it would be better to have a landfill this side of the Kaimai Range to reduce trucking and we were told there is effort being made to cooperate with other towns in Bay of Plenty to find a site.

However, in my mind, it would be better again if we were able to send it by electric train and not finding new places to bury our waste underground.

There is already an existing continuous train track between Tauranga and Hampton Downs and it would emit less carbon than trucking it somewhere local.

It could be used in conjunction with a passenger train service, but that's a whole new column!

The general Green Party position is to eventually move towards Zero Waste ASAP and until July 7, council is accepting submissions about Recycling and Waste management.

This is a great way to make your view known because not many people actually make submissions and so your voice will be louder. Just go to the council website, then Have Your Say and then Projects and Open Consultations and then click on the Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan. Go for it!

 



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