Zero waste innovators get funding boost

Publish Date : 11 Jan 2022
Zero waste funding

More than thirty organisations and businesses are receiving a boost in funding from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund (WMIF).

Collectively, the 32 grant recipients will receive $528,782 for a range of projects designed to promote waste minimisation and reduce waste to landfill. Textile waste, fire extinguisher powder, polystyrene, medical supplies, and milk kegs are all getting a glow up through new recycling initiatives.

The waste minimisation activities range from $5000 to $50,000 in funding from the waste levy. The full list of recipients is available on Auckland Council's website [PDF].

Councillor Richard Hills, chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, says, “The aim of this fund is to create enduring change in community behaviour and attitudes towards waste. Less than 20 per cent of Auckland’s waste is actually from household collections, so we need private sector partners to help lead the way in their industries. There are already so many great zero waste solutions out there, and this fund gives our community the boost they need to bring the circular economy to life.”

Para Kore

The purpose of the Te Rourou Māpua project from Para Kore Ki Tāmaki is to offer community-led zero-waste workshops that support tino rangatiratanga for whānau and uphold tikanga and protection for Papatūānuku. As part of that mahi, funds will be used to create resources for educational programmes designed to upskill marae kai mahi to build internal capacity in the marae and the organisation.

Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae is establishing a community compost hub and collection service, using an electric bike and trailer to collect food scraps from local schools in Māngere. The marae has a kumara garden that’s been admired and enjoyed by Aucklanders for generations. Previous WMIF recipient, the Kai Ika project, runs their successful programme through the marae to distribute food to whānau.

Resource Recovery Initiatives

Construction and demolition waste is the largest source of materials to landfill - more than double the waste from all the weekly rubbish collections across Auckland.

“A typical new house build might waste an average of 4.5 tonnes of materials. This is the equivalent of around 30 years of weekly kerbside refuse collections for one person in Auckland,” shares Councillor Hills.

“Keeping construction materials out of landfill and moving them into the circular economy is a priority for Auckland Council projects. Some of our projects, like the City Rail Link, divert close to 100 per cent of their waste. It is encouraging to see more private-sector construction and demolition projects measuring their waste and trialling alternatives to landfill.”

A group in Kaipātiki will create an onsite Resource Recovery Compound to sort, measure, and value leftover construction materials before they leave the site. Other grant recipients are reusing and repurposing materials in the deconstruction of houses. There’s also a project recycling uPVC and HDPE plastic from construction. They’ll collect data on this common material to inform future investment in recycling infrastructure.

Resource recovery projects are important for reaching our climate goals because they reduce emissions and preserve embedded carbon by extending the lifecycle of the materials they recover. Development of a regional resource recovery network has a big role to play in Auckland’s aim for zero waste by 2040. In the next ten years, Auckland Council hopes that most people will live within 20 minutes of a Community Recycling Centre where they can drop off or pick up items instead of having to buy things new.

Composting is very popular

Projects from the Hibiscus Coast down to Howick are helping businesses and households manage their food waste. Overall, fourteen projects that keep food scraps from landfill received funding in this grant round. Food waste is almost half the weight of household rubbish, and food scraps release methane when they degrade in a landfill, so composting remains an important climate intervention.

“Aucklanders care about their environment and are committed to preserving it for future generations. The zero-waste vision is clear from playcentres to youth groups, business associations to construction experts, and marae and community organisations. It is inspiring to see what new ideas are being tried and what classic zero waste strategies are still having a huge impact,” shares Parul Sood, General Manager Waste Solutions.

How WMIF is funded

The Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund uses a portion of the funds allocated to Auckland Council from the national waste levy. It is primarily intended to provide seed funding to encourage and enable creative reuse and recovery and generate economic opportunities.

A minimum 50 per cent contribution towards the projects is required from applicants. This can be achieved through additional funding from their own or other resources or time-in-kind. Private investment and funding from other providers are encouraged and considered favourably by the assessment team.

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