As Kiwis and overseas visitors begin to finalise their holiday plans, the Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board is appealing to those that have the island on their ‘must visit’ list for the summer to plan carefully and think about their waste before they arrive.
“Tourism plays an incredibly important role in our local economy,” says Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board Chair, Izzy Fordham. “Every summer, we welcome a lot of visitors and boaties to our shores – all coming to enjoy Aotea’s unspoiled beauty.
“As an island community, there are things we think about as a matter of course in our daily lives because we’re used to living with limited resources, which people that live on the mainland perhaps don’t stop to consider. Waste is definitely near the top of that list.”
Landfill limitations demand a ‘rethink’ on waste
Fordham adds that the sole landfill on the island, Claris Landfill, is only consented until 2027. In preparation for the landfill closure, work currently being undertaken by Auckland Council indicates that if current waste volumes are not significantly reduced, the landfill may reach capacity well before 2027.
Waste minimisation is now a key focus for permanent island residents. Locals think very carefully about what they do with their unwanted items and actively look for options to reduce, reuse, repair, upcycle, and recycle items to give the landfill a longer lease of life.
“Existing landfill capacity needs to be prioritised to serve the permanent residents of the island, so we’re asking visitors to plan carefully, choose reusable containers, bring as little disposable packaging waste to the island as they can and, where possible, take their waste away with them when they go,” says Izzy Fordham.
Because of the island’s waste infrastructure constraints, new services were launched on 1 July 2019 to support both residents and visitors to minimise their waste, with a visitor philosophy of “leave nothing behind”.
During the summer months, daily visitor arrivals in excess of 1,000 people per day outstrip the number of permanent residents that live on the island all-year-round.
New summer services for boaties and visitors
Returning visitors to the island or boaties, for whom the Barrier is an annual destination, will notice some changes to waste services. Fordham says that some of the changes are radical, but necessary, and support the island’s goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040.
What boaties need to know
For boaties, the best option is to take your waste away with you when you leave and dispose of it once you are back on the mainland. However, if you do need to dispose of waste while moored off Aotea / Great Barrier Island, a new user-pays, land-based waste drop-off service will be open at Port Fitzroy wharf from 21 December 2019 to 1 February 2020. It will be staffed from 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday, but will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For details on how the service will operate, visit makethemostofwaste.co.nz.
The floating summer waste barge service that used to be moored north of Smokehouse Bay near Port Fitzroy, is no longer operating. All public litter bins, as well as the waste drop-off stations at Port Fitzroy, Whangaparapara, Tryphena / Shoal Bay, and outside the Claris Landfill, have also closed.
Clean Below? Good to go
Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board is also encouraging boaties to ensure their boats have clean hulls before visiting the island. If boat owners clean their hulls while moored around the island, there is the potential to dislodge and spread both contaminants, such as heavy metals, and marine pests. These pose major risks to Aotea’s pristine marine environment.
Land-based summer waste services
For short-stay visitors arriving by plane or ferry, the best thing to do is to ‘pack in and pack out’. Plan ahead – bring minimal single-use packaging with you and take your waste home to dispose of it, where possible.
Holidaymakers staying in accommodation, where the owner pays a waste charge, will be able to use council roadside collection services for rubbish and recycling. Visitors staying in other accommodation can buy council 60-litre rubbish bags from the Claris service centre or local stores around the island.
Visitors can also drop off waste, including recyclable household containers or unwanted items, to the Aotea Community Recycling Centre or the Claris Landfill.
For further details on all council waste services, including opening times, costs, and how they work, visit makethemostofwaste.co.nz
Call 0800 NO DUMP to report illegally dumped waste
If you see waste illegally dumped in public places, call Auckland Council’s Illegal Dumping Hotline, 0800 NO DUMP (0800 663 867) which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to report it. Eyewitness reports or camera footage may provide Auckland Council with enough evidence to issue a Litter Infringement Notice, which carries a fine of up to $400.
Leave only footprints behind
“Aotea cannot sustain the volumes of waste produced by the influx of summer visitors. We’re not a waste destination so we’re asking visitors to bear that in mind before they arrive, to recycle and compost as much as they can while they’re here and take their waste back to the mainland with them, if they can,” says Izzy Fordham.