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Waste not, want not a new focus

Consultation is underway on new Wellington region-wide waste disposal initiatives and an updated policy.

The three Wairarapa councils – Carterton District Council [CDC], Masterton District Council [MDC], and South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] – are part of the group of eight councils across the Wellington region that have put together a revised plan to manage waste.

Called the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation joint committee, the group is now looking for feedback on the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan [WMMP] and the joint regional Wairarapa Local Action Plan.

Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett is chair of the group.

While members have different priorities and issues, she explained, the plan is an opportunity to work together.

“We want to develop infrastructure to make it easier for people to dispose of their waste,” she said.

Pannett said the current infrastructure for waste disposal is not standard across the region. At the same time, the landfill is being used to dispose of items that could be repurposed and reused in a way that benefits the economy.

“We are trying to create a circular economy, so that things can be used again and again and again,” she said.

“A lot of materials in the landfill could be much better used. It is wasteful to take a resource, use it once, and throw it away.”

Pannett said jobs could be created by reusing things such as building materials, for example.

Funds raised from the recently enacted government waste disposal levy will be put towards creating waste disposal infrastructure for councils.

“It needs to be expensive to dump and cheaper to use again productively if it can be,” Pannett said.

“It’s a conversation about how we use our resources more effectively.”

She said not everyone across the region has access to kerbside paper and glass recycling facilities, while disposal of food scraps is an emerging issue.

“Some people would do home composting. We are looking at the culture our grandparents or great-grandparents had of not wasting. We need to have that ethic, but for modern times.”

Pannett said the government has mandated the provision of an organic processing facility for food scraps. Funds raised from the new levy could be used to fund such a facility.

“It’s economies of scale. Waste doesn’t respect boundaries. We are quite a small region, and we need to use our resources effectively,” she said.

Submissions from Wairarapa on the draft WMMP consultation are understood to be currently in single figures, but MDC’s representative on the committee, councillor Tom Hullena, said there is time for the community to have their say.

“How we manage waste is not just an issue for one part of our community; it is part of all our lives. That includes what we do at home, how we shop, the industries producing the goods we need, and how we treat food waste. It’s about reducing waste, but it’s also about finding ways to re-purpose the waste we do produce,” he said.

“We can’t just go on doing what we’re doing – in a lot of cases, that’s burying waste in the ground and the acceleration of the damage this is doing to the environment and ultimately life on the planet.

“The plan proposes a target that reduces the final disposal of waste to landfill by 10 per cent by 2027 and 30 per cent by 2030.

“When it comes to waste, all sectors of the community need to change the way we are doing things – and we need our community to give us their feedback on how we go about doing that,” Hullena said.

Councillor Steve Cretney represents Carterton on the committee.

“All councils need to establish robust waste management and minimisation systems and processes so people can manage their waste effectively,” he said.

“The draft WMMP will provide our councils with a clear path forward. It will strike a balance between ambition and action with targets our communities can achieve.”

Cretney said the key is to transition from a take-make-waste economy to a circular one, where waste and pollution are designed out, resources are highly valued and used for as long as possible, and there is a plan to recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their lifecycle.

“It is our responsibility to improve the environment for future generations,” Cretney said.

  • More information, including how to make a submission, is at www.lesswastegreaterplace.co.nz.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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