James Rus­sell El­e­ment editor

Element - - Contents -

By and large the Draft Auck­land Waste Min­imi­sa­tion Plan has been met with en­thu­si­asm; most folks agree that a dis­poser-pays charge for your waste-to-land­fill wheelie bin makes for re­spon­si­ble prac­tice at the house­hold. It may well en­sure that the pro­por­tion of an av­er­age waste-to-land­fill wheelie bin made up of re­cy­clable ma­te­rial – a still high 15 per cent – ends up where it should.

There are some bugs: how to get the sig­nif­i­cant numbers of renters to pay when the bill goes to the ratepayer is one of them.

Many will be sur­prised to learn that a full 50 per cent of the av­er­age wheelie bin is made up of food scraps and green waste – and this is what the coun­cil is propos­ing to take out for in­dus­trial com­post­ing, with a weekly col­lec­tion.

We can be sure of one thing: the land­fill op­er­a­tors will be peeved. Who cares, right? Surely most of the land­fills are coun­cil-owned? As it turns out, quite the op­po­site. Of the four land­fills and seven­teen trans­fer fa­cil­i­ties in Auck­land, Auck­land Coun­cil owns out­right just one – the Waitakere Refuse and Re­cy­cling Trans­fer Sta­tion. It has no oper­a­tional con­trol of any land­fills apart from the small Claris land­fill on Great Bar­rier Is­land. And through its prop­erty CCO, Coun­cil owns a 50 per cent share of the Whit­ford land­fill through a joint ven­ture with Transpa­cific In­dus­tries Ltd.

Auck­land Coun­cil­lor Wayne Walker told me while he was un­sure Many will be sur­prised to learn that a full 50 per cent of the av­er­age wheelie bin is made up of food scraps and green waste of the ex­act num­ber of clean­fill land­fills – those tak­ing clay, soil, rock, con­crete and bricks (all of which are sup­posed to be free of any haz­ardous sub­stances) – in the Auck­land re­gion, he thought it was prob­a­bly “in the hundreds”. Green­waste and com­post op­er­a­tors are on top of that.

This is the way it has been planned: Coun­cils have been pri­vatis­ing these ser­vices for years to the point where Auck­land Coun­cil “in­flu­ences” just 17 per cent of it.

The goal of these pri­vate op­er­a­tors is not to re­duce the amount of waste we pro­duce, nor to di­vert how much is sent to land­fill. They are there to turn a profit, which means putting the max­i­mum amount into the ground.

In the usual ebbs and flows of philo­soph­i­cal think­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic to lo­cal coun­cils and gov­ern­ments, the plan is now to try to re­gain some of the con­trol over these fa­cil­i­ties, with a goal that Auck­land Coun­cil will in­flu­ence 30 per cent of the re­gion’s waste by 2027.

To reach the goal of hav­ing Auck­land at zero waste by 2040 will re­quire a speed­ier take back of con­trol than this.

Have your say: sub­mis­sions for the Draft Waste Min­imi­sa­tion Plan close on 31 Jan­uary, 2012.

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