Whangarei producing more household rubbish

By Alexandra Newlove

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Whangarei's Purewa landfill 10km south of town may be hidden from view, but the council wants residents to think more about the waste they are producing. PHOTO/TANIA WHYTE
Whangarei's Purewa landfill 10km south of town may be hidden from view, but the council wants residents to think more about the waste they are producing. PHOTO/TANIA WHYTE

A push by Whangarei District Council to get residents to reduce the amount household rubbish hasn't worked, so it's looking at new ways to get people to slash their trash.

Whangarei households each sent more than 300 kilograms of rubbish to the landfill last year, as per-person waste volumes continue to grow.

Whangarei sent 9209 tonnes of household rubbish to its Purewa landfill in the year ending June 30, a 6.1 per cent increase on the 2014/15 financial year. Tonnage between 2013/14 and 2014/15 also increased about 2 per cent, while the population was growing about 1.6 per cent annually.

"We need to be out there more so we can educate people," said Whangarei District Council (WDC) solid waste engineer Jo Floyd. "It's frustrating because [waste] can't be directly controlled."

There was also a 12.7 per cent increase in recycling tonnage last year.

In 2012 WDC set a target of a 4 per cent reduction in kerbside rubbish each year.

It revised this to a 2 per cent decrease last year after finding the former unachievable.

Last year's 9209 tonnes only took into account what was picked up at the kerbside, not commercial waste, rubbish dropped at transfer stations, litter control, public bins and fly tipping.

When these other rubbish sources were taken into account, the district was producing about 35,000 tonnes of waste, although this figure was last calculated in 2011 and landfill operators said "good inroads" were being made in regards to commercial waste.

At the last audit in 2008, the major sources of landfill waste were organics (26 per cent, of which 80 per cent was kitchen waste); timber (18 per cent); plastics (12 per cent); rubble (11 per cent) and paper (11 per cent).

Ms Floyd said there were several steps being taken to improve performance against the 2 per cent waste reduction target.

"We need to review the whole thing, to make it realistic and achievable and so we can focus on the aspects we can actually do something about," she said.

WDC was joining the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign which educated people about how to make better use of food waste. It was also in the process of upgrading and renewing its waste education contract, held by EcoSolutions, which focused on recycling education in schools.

Next year the council would re-tender its collection and transfer station contract, with the possibility of introducing larger wheelie recycling bins.

It would also conduct another waste audit next year, to see what was now going to landfill.


Purewa Landfill: While the Whangarei District Council (WDC) was aiming to reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill, it was in a joint venture partnership with a company with a commercial interest in keeping trash volumes up.

Purewa landfill, about 10 kilometres south of Whangarei and equipped to handle 3 million tonnes of trash, is operated as a joint venture between WDC and Northland Waste Ltd, the company which also holds the district's transfer station and collection contract.

Purewa also serviced greater Northland and parts of northern Auckland to keep it commercially viable.

Ms Floyd said the joint venture was a "balancing act" and which also included Kioreroa Road's Re:Sort Centre which was "all about trying to divert waste away from landfill".

"We have interesting conversations [with Northland Waste] about increasing tonnage to the landfill, and [council] is saying 'but we want to extend the life of the landfill'... It's well-balanced inasmuch as you've got one foot on the brake, one on the accelerator."

Northland Waste director Ray Lambert said the landfill would run to the end of its 35-year consent period, despite accepting waste from outside Whangarei.

Collecting waste from Auckland's northern areas made sense, particularly where recycling was being trucked down from Purewa, and the return journey could see the truck pick up landfill waste.

"By accepting refuse from Far North and North Auckland the landfill can run to a higher standard on a more affordable basis," Mr Lambert said.

"By way of example, the old landfill in Far North did not extract and burn gas and convert methane to [carbon dioxide]. Therefore diversion of Far North tonnages to Puwera is advantageous in term of greenhouse gas issues."

He said Purewa was installing a gas-to-energy system in the next year, which would burn non-treated timber.

"This would not have been possible without tonnage from Far North and North Auckland," Mr Lambert said.

Mr Lambert said he was proud of the operation, with another ongoing project looking at how treated timber could be diverted from the landfill.

- Northern Advocate

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