Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Stripping valuables from waste could create 10,000 jobs

Waste is unloaded from a truck.   Photo / Kenny Rodger
Waste is unloaded from a truck. Photo / Kenny Rodger

Up to 10,000 jobs could be created in Auckland by mining the treasures contained in its rubbish, says recycling guru Warren Snow.

He said yesterday that huge quantities of valuable resources were being wasted under the system in which private companies control the path of 83 per cent of Auckland's rubbish from collection to landfill.

"The interests of the large waste companies are aligned with their shareholders and not the people of Auckland.

"They make their money from filling their landfills."

He told a hearing into Auckland Council's draft waste plan that the answer to a "waste crisis" was for the council to take control of refuse transfer stations and strip the waste stream of its valuables.

The founder of the Envision environmental consultancy said the region could reclaim its resources by setting up five to seven large recycling business parks, fed by up to 100 community recycling centres.

A report from the United States predicted that 1.5 million new jobs could be created there by growing the recycling industry.

Using the same formula in Auckland, Mr Snow said the present $1 billion waste collection industry could grow to an economic powerhouse - creating 7500 to 10,000 long-term jobs and many new businesses.

Recycling was a sunrise industry that had an endless supply of materials as long as the council had access to them.

The council could control this by licensing and facilitating a recovery network run by private operators and community groups.

The money to get the network up on its feet could come from halting kerbside inorganic collections and from a waste levy on every tonne of rubbish that goes to a landfill.

Private investors could be a further source.

The council estimates it would cost ratepayers $10 million to have annual kerbside inorganic rubbish collections throughout the region.

Once running, the network would be funded by gate fees and the sale of reusable and recyclable materials, disposal fees and sales.

Mr Snow said a further source could be "producer contributions" paid in advance on television sets, computers, cars and bottles.

- NZ Herald

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