Nearly 880kg of recycling and more than 1100kg of organic waste.
That is how much the Zepsri AIMS Games Green Team diverted from the landfill after collecting nearly 4000kg of rubbish at last year’s week-long intermediate-aged sporting tournament in Tauranga.
But this year, the “unsung heroes” of the games have a goal to collect even more.
More than 22,000 officials, supporters, and junior athletes will descend on the city for the 18th Zespri AIMS Games from Saturday to September 8. A record 373 schools have registered bringing 11,733 athletes who will compete across 25 sporting codes.
While the thousands of athletes compete across the week, a Green Team of about 50 pupils from local schools will be committed to minimising waste and increasing public awareness for recycling and diverting waste from landfill.
The Green Team includes pupils from Tauranga Intermediate, Otumoetai Intermediate, Mount Maunganui Intermediate, and Papamoa College.
According to the 2022 Waste Minimisation Report, A total of 3908.6kg of waste was collected from 51 recycling stations placed at seven major venues including Blake Park, Gordon Spratt Reserve, Waipuna Park, McLaren Falls, Summerhill Mountain Bike Park, Argos Gym and Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club.
Of that, the Green Team diverted 2026.8kg (53 per cent) from landfill. Mixed recyclables made up 877.4kg (23 per cent) of the weight and organic waste made up 1149.4kg (29 per cent) of the weight. That left 1881.kg of waste to landfill.
Waste Watchers Ltd director Marty Hoffart said while that was a big effort, this year’s goal was to divert at least 60 per cent from landfill.
That was not an easy task, he said.
Hoffart said the games was not a closed event, which meant it could not control all the materials brought into each event and subsequently disposed of at each site.
Hoffart said the Green Team allowed 50-plus children to be part of the AIMS Games that otherwise wouldn’t be.
“They are ambassadors for visitors to Tauranga. They get recognised for their efforts, which raises them up too.
“It is a huge week. They are out there every day rain or shine.”
Last year, Hoffart said the team collected plenty of tinsel from wigs and pom poms and because of last year’s stormy weather a lot of broken marquees and tents were disposed of.
But he said it was coffee cups that made up the bulk of the rubbish.
“There were tens of thousands of coffee cups collected.”
He encouraged people to bring their own reusable cups.
“Reuse, reuse, reuse is the way to go.”
Hoffart said Kiwis’ attitudes towards recycling had improved over the years because of “our uncertain world”.
“Tauranga in the last few years had made changes including the fact everyone has their own rubbish, recycling, and food scrap bins at home now. We are moving forward.”
Zespri AIMS Games tournament director Kelly Schiscka said the Green Team was an integral part of the event.
“They are the unsung heroes of the tournament in a lot of ways.
“It is not only the next generation of athletes that are going to lead us forward into the future but the next generation of environmental champions are probably going to be even more important.
“We are proud of the efforts we make in diverting waste from landfill but we would love to do more and we would love all our competitors and supporters to be really conscious of doing everything they can.”
Tauranga City Council venues and events manager Nelita Byrne said the council was also running beach clean-ups again this year to encourage local and visiting athletes to “give back” to the environment.
“Last year athletes collected a total of 35.9kg of waste, with 47 per cent being recyclable and 53 per cent being destined for landfill.”
Top tips for staying green this AIMS Games
- If you are a school team, sort out your compostables and recycling from the rubbish and use the recycling stations available.
- Reusable cups. If people bring their own that would help.
- Reuse when you can.
- Food waste. Don’t over-order food for your team. If you do, take it back with you.
Source: Waste Watchers Ltd