A bustling winter tourist town is leaping full bodied into waste reduction in a way neighbouring districts can only envy.

In Hawke's Bay, the Napier and Hastings councils are poised to roll out bins to households, in a bid to divert recyclables away from their shared landfill.

But on the other side of the Ruahine Ranges, the Ruapehu District Council has issued a zero-waste challenge.

The challenge has been embraced by entrepreneur Andrew Stubbing, who has a café in Ohakune, gateway to the Turoa skifield.


The Lane Elemento is a lot more than just another coffee joint. It is a zero-waste business where zero means zero – all consumables are composted or fed to worms on site.

"Ruapehu has a major problem with their landfill - it is almost full and it is going to cost them almost $1 million to set up a new one," Stubbing said.

"I am trying to create a solution by diverting consumables from landfill."

Stubbing has an eye for location - he has a cafe on a busy corner in Auckland's Newmarket, but his Ohakune Junction location has a more environmental consideration - next to the bus stop for the shuttle to Turoa skifield.

He said more people on buses was "the best thing for the maunga".

"We are really doing a bit of damage to the environment – constantly taking 4000 to 6000 cars up the mountain."

Even though diesel wasn't necessarily the best thing for the environment, more bums on seats was going to be better for the environment and the mountain in the long run.

He said he was aiming to be educational.

"We are situated in the Central North Island – we are between the Aucklanders, the Coasties and the Wellingtonians, and being able to demonstrate zero waste and demonstrate that compostable packaging can be actually composted on site, without a full commercial facility, is what we are really about."

Other businesses in Ruapehu were also responding to the council's zero-waste challenge, enabling the district, and its worms, to waste not want not.

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