What can we do to re­duce waste?

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - ADRI­ENNE WILCOCK

There are chal­lenges ahead of us when it comes to waste man­age­ment.

Per­versely, while the statis­tics of the ton­nages col­lected for re­cy­cling at the kerb­side col­lec­tion through­out the Matamata-Pi­ako District have in­creased con­sid­er­ably, so have the ton­nages go­ing to land­fill. We are sim­ply cre­at­ing more waste. It’s not unique to Matamata. No­body wants a land­fill in their neigh­bour­hood and the con­sent­ing process to get a new one is costly.

The cost of tak­ing waste to a li­censed land­fill in­cludes a waste min­imi­sa­tion levy of $10/tonne. This levy fund is man­aged by the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment whereby half goes to coun­cils, to pro­vide en­vi­ron­men­tal and sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives such as En­vi­roschools, and the other half is used as a fund for stud­ies and projects or to set up new waste man­age­ment so­lu­tions. The NZ Ru­ral Waste Min­imi­sa­tion Project that I am­part of has in part been funded through this. There is a de­sire to in­crease the levy. Com­pared to Aus­tralia, where the states all ap­ply their own levy, ours is very low.

Re­cently China stopped re­ceiv­ing plas­tic for re­cy­cling. It was tak­ing 55 per cent of the world’s plas­tic. We, as a coun­try are fast learn­ing the need to deal with our waste. Agre­cov­ery col­lects un­wanted agri­cul­tural and an­i­mal health chem­i­cals where the highly haz­ardous com­pounds are sent to France for dis­posal, which is ex­pen­sive. The les­son here is for farm­ers and grow­ers to only buy what they need and use it up be­fore it ex­pires. Through my gov­er­nance roles, I have had the op­por­tu­nity to gather knowl­edge on the waste sec­tor.There is no sil­ver bul­let and we as the peo­ple of this beau­ti­ful coun­try have a choice.

This is not de­mand­ing what cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment should do. This is ask­ing what I can do to im­prove my own waste man­age­ment habits. No one is per­fect and we are all in this to­gether. It takes time, thought and ac­tion. Take the plas­tic bag de­bate. Some say we should be charged a levy at the point of sale for the bag - a reg­u­la­tory move.

This how­ever cre­ates a layer of cost through ad­min­is­tra­tion. The great­est thing we can do in­di­vid­u­ally is to vol­un­tar­ily re­move our need for that plas­tic bag when we go shopping. This is oc­cur­ring through­out the coun­try right now. Peo­ple are tak­ing their re­us­able bags with them when they go to the su­per­mar­ket. Many re­tail­ers and sup­pli­ers are pro­vid­ing pa­per bags, a com­postable bag or a card­board box.

Cus­tomers are car­ry­ing their pur­chase out of the store loose, in their hand­bag or in a re­us­able bag. These are all a con­scious change in be­hav­iour which will even­tu­ally be­come an un­con­scious habit and a nor­mal part of daily life. The com­mon theme is cost, a mon­e­tary one and an en­vi­ron­men­tal one. What price am I pre­pared to pay?

-Adri­enne Wilcock, Matamata Ward district coun­cil­lor.

REXINE HAWES

Adri­enne Wilcock.

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