The Council’s finalised Waste Management and Minimisation Plan is so comprehensive and ambitious it has the potential to put the city among the world leaders in this field. Auckland currently produces a third of the nation’s waste and spends $65 million a year dealing with it. If the Council’s aspirational goal becomes reality, by 2040 this waste will be completed eliminated. All materials will be recycled in one way or another and virtually nothing will go to landfill.
In the meantime, for urban areas, this will mean fortnightly ‘disposer-pays’ kerbside refuse wheelie bin collections, in sizes ranging from 60 to 240 litres. It will cost about $2.50 per lift for an 80-litre bin. In rural areas the same service will be supplemented with ‘disposer pays’ prepaid bags in some areas. There will also be parallel fortnightly rates-funded kerbside recycling wheelie bin collections, in sizes ranging from 140 to 360 litres, with the aim of continually expanding the range of materials recycled.
The current inorganic collections will remain, and urban areas will also benefit from a new rate-funded organic waste collection, although whether this will be food only or include garden waste is as yet unclear. The potential byproducts of organic waste can be a rich resource – either through straight composting or, as in many cities around the world using biodigesters, turning household waste to methane (burned to create electricity or heat) and natural compost fertiliser.
There is also provision for a part-subsided recycling collection for domestic type waste from commercial properties, so that it becomes economical to recycle from work lunch rooms and desk-side bins.
The council also plans a region-wide resource recovery network, including facilities for hazardous waste and construction and demolition material drop-off. And it will begin lobbying government for changes in the law that would promote waste minimisation nationwide. This would include advocacy of Container Deposit Legislation and the development of product stewardship schemes for electronic waste, tyres, batteries, nappies and more, where the products’ manufacturers would share responsibility for receiving and processing the waste these things generate. And on a similar note it will call for an extension to the Waste Minimisation Act that will give industry the same responsibilities for waste reduction as local authorities.
It represents a revolution in the way we think about waste, and will be backed with education and community support to ensure the population gets behind it.