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Opinion: If we work together we can go waste free

Published: 27 June 2018
Franklin Ward councillor and Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says achieving Auckland Council's zero waste goal by 2040 is definitely achievable.

Franklin Ward Councillor and Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore explains how Auckland can achieve its zero waste goal.

Auckland creates mountains of rubbish each year.

How will the council deal with this? Our new waste strategy aims to have zero waste in our landfills by 2040. It’s a tough ask, but I reckon we can do it.

We are rolling out a new three-bin system progressively over the next few years to the urban areas – a service which will manage household recycling, food waste and general waste. Franklin urban areas will have the new service by 2021, and the service will be user-pays and not subsidised by the ratepayer.

A fairer waste system

Franklin residents pay a set charge on their rates account to use our nearby landfills. This raises issues around fairness between those who use the landfills a lot and those who don’t. Once the new three-bin service is rolled out we will switch to a 'pay-as-you-throw' charge.

Currently, residents in the areas of Auckland which have a new user-pays service purchase a tag for general waste, which they attach to their red-top bin prior to taking it curbside.

Recycling is paid for through a rate-funded standard charge and is collected fortnightly. Some residents fill up their yellow bin and others less so. Diverting more material from landfills to recycling means more positive outcomes for the natural environment and our economy.

Food waste makes up to 40 per cent of an average household red-top landfill bin. By using the yellow-topped food waste bin, the amount of waste going to our landfills will be significantly reduced. So, the cost of $67 per year, or around $1.20 per week, can largely be recouped by reducing the number of times you will need to wheel your red-top bin to the kerbside.

Where will the food waste go?

To make the food waste processing business work, there needs to be financial certainty and certainty of product. We are exploring options that will benefit communities and local businesses, and several examples of local businesses and the council dealing with food waste around Auckland already exist. What needs to happen is a significant scaling up of business to manage the increase in food waste we will see as a result of the shift from landfill to food waste processing.

Auckland Council is not subsidising private businesses but is working in a collaborative and transparent manner to ensure the most cost-effective outcome for ratepayers. At the end of the day, a 40 per cent reduction in household waste to landfill is a great outcome for our communities.

No more recycling to China

Many of you will have read about the recycled product that is no longer being accepted by China. We are working with our contractors to find solutions in NZ or Australia. As the issue is nationwide, the Government needs to be involved. There also needs to be discussions with the Government about the Landfill Levy; particularly, how much that should be per tonne to get the best nationwide outcome.

Further discussions need to be had about a container deposit scheme, where a refund per bottle, can or container can be offered to discourage tipping and waste creation, alongside stewardship programs to ensure products like tyres are recycled rather than dumped.