Many towns and cities now have waste recycling operations, but the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre stood out for the judges.
It’s only been going just over a year, but it is already proving popular with residents.
“People like to recycle rather than just throw stuff in the rubbish,” says manager Ramari Te Uamairangi.
“More and more people are coming through, and we are getting positive feedback that it’s a good service – friendly, clean, accessible and well organised.”
The centre is the old town prison behind Cooks Gardens, which had been empty for over a decade.
The public can drop off glass, paper and plastic for free – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Other rubbish, oil and green waste will be taken for a fee.
There is room in the facility for an education room and the office of Sustainable Whanganui, which is one of the partners in the venture along with the council and the local Iwi.
There is a secondhand shop, a Green Bikes operation and a Re-Use Academy that stores magazines, books, jars, broken pottery, garden supplies etc, housed in the old cells for craftspeople, schools and the public to repurpose.
The judges say that underpinning the operation are fantastic feasibility studies with strong analysis and clear understanding of the systems and structures needed to build sustainability.
The combination of user pays and on-selling waste to larger recyclers means it is financially viable and employs a staff of six.
There is also the strong partnership model, with a cross market approach involving corporates, public, Iwi, community and education.
Te Uamairangi says for Te Runanga o Tupoho it was an opportunity to be involved in a progressive business which would benefit not just its own people but the other residents of Whanganui.
“We are all about the sustainability of the environment, looking after papatuanuku,” she says.