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Auckland household waste volumes up during lockdown

Published: 19 May 2020

There was a notable spike in kerbside recycling and rubbish volumes as lockdown forced Aucklanders to dine at home more than ever before.

Overall, 1870 more tonnes of rubbish (12 per cent more) and 326 extra tonnes of recycling (3 per cent) were collected from Auckland households in April of this year compared to 2019.

Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, puts this lockdown waste spike into perspective.

“Compared to last year, the additional household rubbish generated in Tāmaki Makaurau for April could have filled 66 double-decker buses.

“This increase in household waste is natural with people staying in and eating at home during alert levels 3 and 4. I’m really proud of the efforts that everyone made over this time and the household waste increase reflects that we were staying inside.

“Over April we received 26 per cent more glass recycling than last year. This equates to just over 1100 tonnes. Auckland’s glass recycling is all pressed here in New Zealand, so the spike was good news for local recyclers.

“We will continue to advocate for onshore recycling capacity for our other recycling material such as plastics, paper and cardboard. Processing this material locally means we won’t need to ship it overseas, and it can instead be a valuable resource for Aucklanders.”

Council’s Waste Solutions team worked around the clock to keep services running safely during lockdown. Collectors were able to maintain the remarkable 99.9 per cent accuracy standard of kerbside collection services across the entire Auckland region.

There were only 4 tonnes more aluminium cans recycled in April and 18 per cent less PET plastic bottles. Auckland Council collected 27 per cent more HDPE plastic, which is the opaque plastic used for milk bottles and cleaning products.

Both recycling and rubbish tonnages were down in January and February of this year, which suggests that normally households are producing less waste, especially when accounting for Auckland’s growing population. Roughly 80 per cent of the total waste to landfill actually comes from commercial sources, not households, so lockdown may have a net positive in overall waste across Auckland.

Environment and Climate Change committee chair Councillor Richard Hills encourages people to keep considering ways to reduce their waste footprint.

“Rinsing your plastics, glass, and cans, and properly recycling can make a difference, but we also need to move away from a throwaway culture and single-use plastic more generally. Everyone needs to reduce their waste to achieve a sustainable future for Tāmaki Makaurau.”

Read more: Waste Environment

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