It’s the end of a recycling era for Rakaia
The introduction of a wheelie bin waste collection system in Mid Canterbury is set to spell the end of a long-running volunteer-led programme in Rakaia.
Volunteers have congregated at the Rakaia Resource Recovery Park every Saturday morning for the past 17 years, to sort the town’s recycling. But with Rakaia included in the new wheelie bin system, that ritual is set to come to an end. The Ashburton District Council has contracted the new collection service for the whole district, Rakaia included, with all rubbish and recycling to be collected and trucked to Christchurch from September 1.
Rakaia Community Association chairman Neil Pluck said Rakaia’s hard-working volunteers were effectively being made redundant, but in this case that wasn’t a bad thing.
‘‘We’re 100 per cent supportive of this and we don’t mind being unemployed because we felt we were just holding the ground until that happened anyway,’’ Pluck said.
‘‘It’s the end of an era but it’s not sad, because what’s happening is what we were always striving to achieve.’’
In 1998, the Ashburton District Council had money to spend on the district’s waste and rubbish collection system, with an aim of being zero waste by 2020. The idea was that Rakaia was simply to be a transfer station, but the people of Rakaia wanted to take responsibility for their recycling, so Pluck and Donna Simpson put their thinking caps on.
A wet and dry system was developed – a green and blue bag system, for putrescible (biodegradable) waste and recyclable goods – and the Rakaia Resource Recovery Park was born.
Rakaia was allowed to sell its recycling, with proceeds going back into the park and the community, with much of it spent on beautifying the town.
‘‘It’s given the community the ability to identify a project and actually get it done, and quickly,’’ Pluck said.
‘‘But over and above that, the Rakaia community has diverted hundreds and hundreds, possibly thousands, of tonnes of recyclable products that would have gone over the edge otherwise.’’
People are invited to a celebration at the park at 9am on August 26, to start after the volunteers have sorted their final ever loads of recycling, of course.
A voluntary scheme which has been running for 17 years is about to come to and end for Neil Pluck and the team at Rakaia Recycling Park.