Hunua recycling pioneers pave the way for service

Publish Date : 22 Nov 2016
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The introduction of a new fortnightly roadside recycling collection in rural Franklin this month means a greater number of Auckland residents now have access to streamlined, consistent services.

While it’s the first time Hunua has had a roadside collection service, residents have been leading the way in recycling for almost thirty years.

And for the better part of that time Willow van Heugten has been in charge.

“Recycling in Hunua started in some form some 27 years ago with a paper collection in an old wooden car case at the junction of Hunua and John Hill Roads,” Willow recalls.

“When I moved into the area 24 years ago the bin was well used and often overflowing. Paper would be stacked on the side of the bin and sometimes it was a real mess, with wind and rain adding to the problem.

"I regularly stopped to clean up the mess and was ‘caught’ one day by a resident. He told me I should stay in the area as I was a ‘good citizen, looking after the place’."

Hunua recycling pioneers pave the way for service
Willow van Heugten.

In 1995 the site for recycling was moved into Hunua Village itself, to Francis Place. A new paper collection shed was built and financed by the Hunua Hall and Domain Society Committee. Soon bins for recycling glass were added, and a concrete floor poured.

As a regular user and passer-by (taking his children to school) Willow kept an eye on the drop-off place and cleaned up if necessary. He was so good at it that Franklin District Council asked him to take on a more formal role in looking after the facility part-time, calling the council if the bins were full and, later on, ringing the contractor directly to arrange collections of recyclable materials.

Willow says before too long the site was a victim of its own success.

“Francis Place drop-off point got busier and busier and, basically, got out of hand. A whole bin of glass was often stacked against the glass bins in plastic bags, which would split from the load.

"There was a strong call from the local community to improve and enlarge the site.”

Willow says it was clear that the community really cared about recycling. A public meeting was well attended by locals, which is where the idea of having a monthly recycling drop off event came from.

“It was suggested that the local Fire Force could help out to keep things running smoothly and could collect donations for their effort. The Fire Force was doing a massive fundraising exercise to finance part of their new buildings at the time so it was a win for the community on all levels.”

And so Hunua created its own system for dealing with recycling. Since May 2008 the community has successfully been operating with a system of volunteer teams of local clubs and organisations. In return for collecting the recycling and sorting it, users of the service have donated a gold coin to the volunteer group.

On November 28 the last Hunua recycling drop off event will be held as the introduction of a fortnightly bin collection service means there is no longer any requirement. For Willow and many other Hunua residents, it marks the end of a significant era for the community.

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Volunteers make quick work of sorting recycling

“This scheme has allowed us to keep waste out of the landfills and raised awareness of environmental issues. It’s allowed us to do some community building and enabled individual clubs and organisations to raise funds to support their goals and strengthen their position. To me it has been a successful exercise all round. I can only hope that the new way of recycling is going to be even more successful than the scheme we’re about to leave behind.”

Ian Stupple, Auckland Council’s General Manager Waste Solutions, says the residents of Hunua are true leaders in zero waste.

“On behalf of Auckland Council I’d like to thank Willow and the community groups for their work in volunteering and supporting the Hunua centre over the years. They have championed recycling in the community and we hope to support them in future zero waste initiatives.”

Note: The new fortnightly roadside service replaces the weekend recycling drop off sites and these will close from 28 November. Please note that Matakawau, Waiuku and Papakura are not affected by these closures.

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