James Russell Element editor
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.