Otago Daily Times

Warn­ing that land­fill not de­com­pos­ing

- JOHN GIBB john.gibb@odt.co.nz Ecology · Dunedin · Dunedin Public Library · Otago Region

WASTE war­rior Kate Meads has shared with Dunedin peo­ple a grotesque vi­sion of fu­ture New Zealan­ders dig­ging up land­fills and find­ing our some­times toxic waste still largely in­tact.

She also of­fered a sober­ing ‘‘re­al­ity check’’ about the ac­tu­al­i­ties be­hind terms such as ‘‘re­cy­cling’’ and ‘‘biodegrad­able’’, dur­ing a witty and widerang­ing ‘‘Waste­free Liv­ing Work­shop’’ at the Dunedin Pub­lic Li­brary at the week­end.

Ms Meads, who has long cam­paigned for more sus­tain­able nap­pies and food pack­ag­ing, gave more than 40 peo­ple plenty of sen­si­ble ad­vice at the twohour work­shop, on Satur­day.

Gen­er­ally, green waste, in­clud­ing food scraps, was bet­ter dis­posed of at home through com­post­ing, she said.

When sec­tions of city coun­cil land­fills be­came full and had to be closed, much of the ma­te­rial in­side, even if nor­mally con­sid­ered biodegrad­able, did not, in fact, break down, be­cause it was iso­lated from oxy­gen.

She had heard of cases where a land­fill had been opened up years later and a read­able mag­a­zine, usu­ally con­sid­ered biodegrad­able, was found in­side.

About half the the con­tents of land­fills should not go there, she said, high­light­ing high lev­els of food waste, in­clud­ing at home.

In a 2017 Dunedin talk, Ms Meads said the coun­try wasted $872 mil­lion a year on food peo­ple bought and threw out. Otago peo­ple alone threw away $45 mil­lion a year in food.

Leachate was an of­ten ‘‘hugely toxic’’ fluid, com­pris­ing a ‘‘weird soup’’ of chem­i­cals, fil­ter­ing through land­fills.

The coun­try’s coun­cils were gen­er­ally do­ing a ‘‘great job’’ in try­ing to re­cy­cle waste ma­te­ri­als, but house­hold­ers could help more by re­fus­ing to buy items in plas­tic pack­ag­ing that could not be re­cy­cled, she said.

 ?? PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH ?? Re­al­i­ties of waste . . . Nappy Lady Kate Meads dis­cusses waste in land­fills.
PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH Re­al­i­ties of waste . . . Nappy Lady Kate Meads dis­cusses waste in land­fills.

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