The motivation for major changes in the way we manage rubbish and recycling as a community is both environmental and financial.
The environmental concerns are well-documented world-wide: Rubbish ‘rafts’ in the oceans; sea life and birds snagged in rubbish or mistaking plastic particles for food; leachates potentially getting into rivers, streams and seas; the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Perhaps less well known is the huge cost of constructing a new landfill pit once the current one is full. It is estimated that the current general rubbish pit at Omarunui Landfill (shared by Napier and Hastings) has about eight years of life left in it if we keep dumping at the current rate – 84,000 tonnes a year.
To replace the pit is estimated to cost about 25 million – with most of that driven by the need to protect the environment as much as possible using comprehensive engineering solutions. Those include installing an impermeable barrier over the full breadth of the proposed dumping area, and laying pipes and installing pumps to remove leachates and gases.
Rubbish bag and bin audits in Hastings show that more than half of the rubbish going to the landfill could have been dealt with in other ways – reused, upcycled, recycled or composted.
Whether your concern is the environment or the cost of rates (or both) there is a way to do something about it: Buy only what you need and use what you buy; avoid products with excess packaging and single use plastics (straws, plastic pages, takeaway coffee cups); make a decision to keep one (or more) pieces of rubbish out of the general rubbish bin every day.
The pages linked below will help you work out how to better deal with waste.
One of the biggest problems with rubbish and recycling is that so many of us aren’t getting the disposal of it right at home and at work – either because of a lack of knowledge, or perhaps we’re in too big a hurry.
New Zealand waste educator Kate Meads has teamed up with filmmaker Brad Stent to put together four short videos on rubbish and where it goes to help us understand the process. Her focus is:
Then recycle whatever is left
Councils across New Zealand have different ways of handling waste but the messages are the same – make sure the things you are putting in the recycling can be recycled (check here for Hastings info), and make sure it is clean. No-one in a recycling facility wants to handle milk bottles that still have a dribble if milk in them and have been sitting in our blazing Hawke’s Bay sun. Putting dirty recycling out means we can’t sell it, so it must go to the landfill, which means more cost to our community.
Check out the Wasted videos (spoiler alert - they may change your habits of a lifetime):
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