In­or­ganic waste col­lec­tion

Element - - Contents - By Diana Cle­ment

“There may not be an an­swer for ev­ery prod­uct to­day, but there are in­no­va­tive peo­ple in this world who think of very cre­ative ways of deal­ing with stuff.”

Auck­land Coun­cil’s Parul Sood. Photo: Ted Baghurst

Good­bye kerb­side in­or­ganic col­lec­tion. The an­nual col­lec­tion in Auck­land, which was loved by some and hated by oth­ers, is gone. In­stead Auck­land Coun­cil has placed its bets on a new col­lec­tion ser­vice, which it hopes will take it a step closer to its goal of zero waste by 2040.

Two trucks will pick up in­or­ganic goods from homes. The first will sort the in­or­ganic ma­te­rial for re­us­able items and the sec­ond will be for dis­posal.

Pick­ups un­der the new scheme start to­day. In­stead of leav­ing in­or­ganic ma­te­rial on the kerb­side, Auck­land res­i­dents will re­ceive a flyer when their area is due for a col­lec­tion and must book online or call the coun­cil to or­gan­ise their in­di­vid­ual pick up on a spe­cific day. There is no di­rect charge be­cause one pickup per an­num is in­cluded in the waste charge, a part of res­i­dents’ an­nual rates bill.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s waste plan­ning man­ager Parul Sood says res­i­dents will be al­lowed to put out up to one cu­bic me­tre of items per house. In­di­vid­ual items must be able to be lifted by two peo­ple and not be heav­ier than 55kg. They must also be kept on the prop­erty close to the drive­way.

Ac­cept­able in­or­ganic items are listed on makethe­mostofwaste.co.nz. The coun­cil won’t col­lect some ob­jects, such as: re­cy­clable pack­ag­ing, tyres, car parts, build­ing and trade waste, fi­bro­lite, floor cov­er­ings, and gas cylin­ders.

The new in­or­ganic method­ol­ogy out­lined in Auck­land’s 2012 Waste Man­age­ment and Min­imi­sa­tion Plan is to cre­ate eco­nomic, so­cial, and en­vi­ron­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties from re­sources that were pre­vi­ously classed as waste, says Sood.

In the short term, re­us­able items will be taken to a ware­house in Pen­rose from which the Com­mu­nity Re­cy­cling Net­work (CRN), a not-for-profit made up of 60 mem­ber or­gan­i­sa­tions from around New Zealand, will dis­trib­ute ma­te­ri­als to ap­proved ‘re­ceivers’. Pro­ject man­ager Sei Brown says his or­gan­i­sa­tion got in­volved so that it could be in­flu­en­tial around the process of build­ing the city’s re­source re­cov­ery net­work, which is a long-term pro­ject the coun­cil is com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing.

CRN has ap­proved com­mu­nity groups such as the Sal­va­tion Army and lo­cal Hos­pice shops to be­come ‘re­ceivers’. Small com­mu­nity groups can also ap­ply to be­come re­ceivers, says Brown.

The re­ceivers will be en­ti­tled to reg­u­lar “shop­ping sprees” to pick up goods that they can sell in their shops or re­fur­bish in their work­shops. He ex­pects the Pen­rose ware­house to re­ceive up to six truck­loads a day when the ser­vice starts.

The in­or­ganic truck driv­ers will be given train­ing in what items can be reused and will, over time, learn to iden­tify more and more items that could find a new home.

The ware­house op­er­a­tion is a stop-gap mea­sure. Over the next 10 years the coun­cil hopes that re­cov­ered in­or­ganic ma­te­rial will be de­liv­ered to 12 com­mu­nity run re­use/re­cy­cling cen­tres across Auck­land – the first of which are al­ready up and run­ning in Waiuku and He­lensville.

Waiuku Zero Waste grew out of a lo­cal ‘men’s shed’ and now op­er­ates a re­cy­cle cen­tre in the lo­cal trans­fer sta­tion. Staff mem­bers aim to di­vert 75 per cent of the “rub­bish” com­ing in to the fa­cil­ity, much of it to its shop, the Waiuku

Junk­tion, and a work­shop. “The va­ri­ety of what comes in just blows you away,” says Sue Wal­lis, gen­eral man­ager of Waiuku Zero Waste Lim­ited.

One ad­van­tage of the new ser­vice for lo­cal Waiuku res­i­dents is that once they’ve been through the re­cy­cling cen­tre there is less in their load, re­duc­ing their dump fees.

Peo­ple per­ceive things that can be re­cy­cled or reused in dif­fer­ent ways. A clas­sic ex­am­ple of this is the frame of old bro­ken pa­tio um­brel­las, which most Ki­wis class as waste. But Xtreme Zero Waste Raglan, which has been op­er­at­ing for 15 years and is seen as an ex­am­ple for Auck­land sells lots of them to gar­den­ers who use them as bean poles.

Another ex­am­ple from Raglan is old out-of-date brief­cases. One en­ter­pris­ing cus­tomer buys these, as well as old elec­tron­ics, and turns them into so­lar-pow­ered stereos, which he then sells.

At Waiuku, like Raglan, staff mem­bers and vol­un­teers fix and re­pur­pose items in the work­shop – with ev­ery­thing from bi­cy­cles to wash­ing ma­chines.

Waiuku’s staff mem­bers even re­move nails from wood and re-sell it. If the wood is too rot­ten to sell it is sent to a com­pany called Kal­ista, which chips it to be used to fuel kilns.

Auck­land Coun­cil has also con­tracted com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion He­lensville En­ter­prise Trust to run the trans­fer sta­tion there as a com­mu­nity re­cy­cling cen­tre. The next ser­vice off the blocks is ex­pected to be in Devon­port. Other com­mu­nity groups in Man­gere, Pa­pakura and else­where are champ­ing at the bit to get started.

For the 12 cen­tres to be a suc­cess, mem­bers of the public will have to change their be­hav­iour in the way they have in Raglan and Waiuku. Brown says once this hap­pens there should be no need for ware­houses such as the one in Pen­rose. His job will be done.

Each of the cen­tres will have its own ideas on how to re­use col­lected ma­te­ri­als. The coun­cil al­ready holds net­work­ing meet­ings for these groups to en­cour­age a joint ap­proach. They can share knowl­edge and ma­te­ri­als.

The ul­ti­mate aim, says Sood, is for the cen­tres to be fi­nan­cially self-sus­tain­ing. “They would be mak­ing money out of selling the stuff or other ways of get­ting money in.”

Other forms of fund­ing, such as gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies to train and em­ploy dis­abled and/or un­em­ployed peo­ple, may be ap­plied for, says Sood. Some cen­tres may also make money from pro­vid­ing work­shops for the com­mu­nity.

Sood ad­mits that there will be an el­e­ment of ma­te­rial that the com­mu­nity groups won’t be able to re­use or re­cy­cle and this will end up in land­fills.

She hopes over time that the com­mu­nity or busi­ness will find in­no­va­tive ways to deal with these prod­ucts. New so­cial en­ter­prises will emerge over time to take eco­nomic ad­van­tage of cur­rently un­wanted in­or­ganic ma­te­ri­als, she says.

“There may not be an an­swer for ev­ery prod­uct to­day, but there are in­no­va­tive peo­ple in this world who think of very cre­ative ways of deal­ing with stuff,” says Sood. “Peo­ple are al­ways com­ing up with new ideas. It is amaz­ing how peo­ple think out­side the box. We think: ‘I don’t know what I am go­ing to do with it’, and these peo­ple say: ‘I am go­ing to think of some­thing’.”

She adds that there also needs to be a big push for man­u­fac­tur­ers to make things longer last­ing and eas­ier to re­use and re­cy­cle.

The ul­ti­mate test of the new in­or­ganic sys­tem for Auck­land will be whether, a year down the track, there has been a re­duc­tion of the 25,000 tonnes cur­rently go­ing to land­fill.

If not, the coun­cil will have more work to do to stream­line the new method­ol­ogy. It can’t go back. With 700,000 more peo­ple ex­pected to live in Auck­land in 30 years’ time the coun­cil is back­ing – and bank­ing on – both com­mu­nity and busi­ness to step up.

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