Each week, Auckland Council waste collectors handle close to 1 million kerbside collections. During a difficult year, their service became a source of comfort and excitement for Auckland residents.
“The time we spent at home during the COVID-19 lockdown put a spotlight on the work that our waste team does to keep our city clean. It was great to see the appreciation throughout the city for this essential service," shares Councillor Richard Hills, chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee.
"So many people shared their gratitude to the workers who went out every day to keep our community safe and healthy.
“The results speak for themselves. Collectors maintained the remarkable 99.9 per cent accuracy standard of kerbside waste services across the entire Auckland region."
Here are a few times our local heroes went above and beyond in 2020.
Recruiting the next generation
Walt is an enthusiastic 5-year-old who recognises the Auckland Council logo wherever he goes. His uncle got in touch with us to see if we could send him some Auckland Council materials for the holidays. But, the waste team wanted to make sure it was delivered in style. So, their local rubbish collector paid him a special visit on Saturday morning to drop it off in our finest sleigh.
Parul Sood, General Manager for Waste Solutions, says, “We encourage Walt to follow his dreams and get in touch with us when he is ready to drive an awesome electric truck and help us on our journey to zero waste to landfill.”
One customer was relieved to get a wallet returned two weeks ago with $770 in it. A recycling truck driver noticed it on the kerbside when she was collecting bins on the North Shore. The company tracked down the person whose wallet it was and made sure it got back to him safely. The driver was taken out to lunch and given a $100 gift certificate to thank her for being so vigilant and making someone’s holiday a bit less stressful.
Picking through rubbish to find dumpers
When someone reports illegal dumping, the investigators leave no piece untouched. They go through looking for receipts, mail, home security footage in the neighbourhood, or other clues to be able to issue fines or prosecute the offenders. Most of the time, people take responsibility without prosecution. But, two big cases made it in front of a judge this year and were fined for their careless dumping of tyres and green waste.
When people put batteries, gas canisters, or other hazards into their bins, they compact in the back of our trucks and cause fires. Sometimes the fires smoulder undetected and ignite when the load is dumped at the transfer station. February was especially bad with three fires in one month. The drivers were vigilant and followed the safety protocols to ensure no one was hurt. Around six tonnes of recycling has to go to landfill when this happens.
Waiheke Island got into the fast lane of zero waste with the arrival of Auckland Council’s first zero-emissions electric vehicle for roadside rubbish and recycling collections. Electric vehicles have lower running costs because electricity is cheaper than petrol, and the vehicle has fewer parts to maintain under the hood. The team is glad that the trucks are quieter, which residents appreciate first thing in the morning.
40 years of kerbside collections
Possum Ross has been driving rubbish trucks for more than 40 years, or as he says, “When I started, we were collecting on a tractor.” He collects around 1000 tonnes of kerbside food scraps in Papakura each year. He believes that the best way to minimise waste is to not create it in the first place, sharing, “We need to start with the manufacturers and how they package things.”
Possum likes doing his route during school holidays because even after 40 years of driving, he still enjoys seeing the young kids get inspired by the big trucks and cool technology.
Give your drivers a wave and thanks when you see them working throughout the busy holidays.
And, if you’re not sure how the summer holidays affect your schedule, you can always check online or ring us at 09 301 0101.