Oh rubbish!

May 5th, 2018 | By | Category: Hot Topics, Latest News

We pay good money for every single item we later consign to the rubbish or recycling bin, often fast and with very little thought.

Volumes of rubbish are increasing in the Waikato

Sometimes we will have used a product for as little as a few minutes, for example, the ubiquitous and problematic plastic shopping bag, which can have a life as short as 12 minutes – from supermarket check-out to our home.

Each of us in the Waikato district generate 750kg of waste every year and it has been growing year on year, according to a recent report assessing the district’s waste.

Across the district a total of 52,182 tonnes of waste is dumped in landfills each year. Also generated in the district is farm waste, which is an estimated whopping 112,662 tonnes or 47.8% of all waste and is generally disposed of on-farm.

While we are clearly ever willing to throw money into the dump there is some good news on our wasteful habits. An estimated 71,000 tonnes of material was diverted from landfill either through reuse, recycling or composting in the 2016-2017 year. That’s around 1020kg per person per year being recycled and it has been on the rise.

But even the good recycling news needs tempering because it is not us that does the recycling. Much of the recycling collected in NZ is exported, particularly to Indonesia and China. In recent years, China has tightened measures around the acceptance of recycled materials.

“Restrictions on the acceptance of recyclable material will mean changes to collection and sorting methodologies in order to achieve export standards. This may impact the costs associated with recycling with some estimates indicating recycling costs could double within the 5-10-year period (regardless of collection methodology),” the report warns.

Meanwhile, the annual inorganic rubbish collection, coming up for Tamahere at the end of May, is just, well, rubbish. And costly.

“Approximately 1000 tonnes of material is collected annually from an inorganic collection provided to parts of the District. All of this material goes to landfill. In 2017 the inorganic collection cost $285,000 (approximately $285 per tonne),” the report notes.

The eye opening Waikato Waste Assessment, a report that gives a clear picture of what happens with waste in the Waikato District, is one of the documents prepared for the council’s proposed Waste Management and Minimisation Plan – a review that councils undertake every six years.

It can be found here and downloaded, along with submission forms on ways we could do better with our rubbish. And resources. And money.

More on this topic: Feedback wanted on rubbish, recycling

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