Among the many things never wasted at Waiuku Zero Waste is time.
Since its inception in 2014, the group has grown to serve more than 20,000 residents stretching over Waiuku, Clarks Beach, the Awhitu peninsula, and on towards Pukekohe.
Despite its success, operators stress the importance of partnerships, with ties to Auckland Council through Franklin Local Board, Xtreme Zero Waste and the wider network, recycling operators in the city and beyond, and locally through business, community and iwi.
Franklin Local Board Waiuku subdivision representative Sharlene Druyven says the team has achieved remarkable things, driven by the passion for the environment of all involved.
“From humble beginnings, Zero Waste has grown into a local powerhouse. Waiuku Junktion is a go-to for those looking to find bargains and help the environment by using products that have been recovered, repurposed or repaired, and stopped from ending up in landfill.”
She says initiatives such as the Tool Library, which has a range of hand and power tools available to those who pay a small annual membership fee, and its work in schools spreading the Tidy Kiwi and environmental messages, are priceless.
“There’s little doubt Zero Waste has set about creating a new generation of youngsters better informed about the choices they make, who understand their actions impact our waterways, parks, forests and streets.”
Zero Waste’s Sue Wallis and Sei Brown recently reported to the board, telling members about 2000 tonnes of waste was handled each year, double the amount handled in 2014. About 70 per cent by volume - 60 per cent by weight – was diverted from landfill.
The group's small army of volunteers had contributed about 10,000 hours of work over 1500 days, and social, educational and cultural aims had seen alliances forged with the Department of Corrections through a partnership with Wiri Prison.
Around 20 groups visit the site each year and widespread donation programmes of recovered goods into schools, preschools, community groups and op shops continue.
Ties to mana whenua had been cemented and Zero Waste was helping deliver on iwi aspirations, including at events hosted at Reretēwhioi Marae.
“There are tangible results being delivered because there are real savings for the council,” fellow Waiuku board representative Matthew Murphy says.
“The organisation’s own income is increasing from lifting sales through the shop, which is making the group more sustainable because there is less reliance on grants.
“And we can’t discount the importance of 16 people being employed within Zero Waste, or the importance of the group’s contribution to the local economy.”
Waiuku Zero Waste is a recycling station built for the community. It aims to help Waiuku sort its waste so that eventually no waste will go to landfill.
The group says it’s a hub for “trash talk” – education, and transformation, turning rubbish into resources to create income and local jobs by putting the “Funk in your Junk”.
You can visit the group’s website and see a short video here.