It’s the end of a re­cy­cling era for Rakaia

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ERIN TASKER

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.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

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.

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