Tauranga's new kerbside collection of food waste has been under way for a month and early data suggests it's already a big success.
"For the first three weeks of our service, we've picked up 197 tonnes of food waste and that's getting more and more each week," Sam Fellows, sustainability and waste manager at Tauranga City Council said.
"For the first week we picked up roughly 50 tonnes, the second week just over 70 and last week we picked up 80 tonnes of food waste."
Instead of going straight to landfill, where it breaks down and releases methane gases into the environment, Tauranga's food scraps are now destined for a higher purpose.
Kathy Grant, Hampton Downs compost supervisor, demonstrated for Local Focus cameras how the food scraps are dealt with off the truck.
"About lunchtime it arrived. We're going to process this, mix it up with our green waste and put it into the ECS composting system," she said.
"Behind me is the food waste and green waste that's been shredded, it's all been mixed up together with the loader, put into this bunker and it sits here for 21 days. We push air through it, we've got oxygen probes in it."
After 21 days the material is transferred into "gore bunkers" for another 21 days, and then another 8 days in the open.
"Once we put it through a screen, the fine product we get at the end is compost," Carl King, general manager of Hampton PARRC said.
"That is sold off and used in kiwifruit, avocados and agriculture. It's a replacement for fertiliser. A lot of farmers and orchardists are going organic now so it's a great use of food waste which all starts in the back yard in Tauranga."
King said contamination of green and food waste was a big issue.
"There's a reasonable amount of contamination that comes in in the food waste. So it's important to understand that you don't put plastic in, you don't put pill packets in, you don't put any of that stuff in there," he said.
"We don't want plastics going back into the environment."
Overall, Tauranga City Council is happy with the rollout of the new service.
"People have generally been pretty good with it," Fellows said.
"A few suggestions we would make is make sure the food waste bin is locked either with the handle up or locked down closed so if someone accidentally knocks it over, your food waste doesn't get anywhere.
"And make sure it's visible to the drivers. If it's tucked behind or in close to a bin it's difficult for the drivers to see and they may miss your bin."
And if you do come home to find food scraps all over the road after a collection, don't panic.
"If it does get spilled then give us a call and we'll make sure it gets picked up. The drivers have been working on making sure all the food gets into the truck and not spilled on the side but occasionally accidents happen so let us know."
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