Gisborne’s waste problems and solutions

Gisborne's landfill waste has increased, more than half of which could be diverted

Gisborne's landfill waste has increased, more than half of which could be diverted

MINIMISING WASTE: In 2016/2017 Gisborne residents on average sent 296 kilogrammes of waste to landfill. This is 11kg below the district’s Waste Minimisation Plan 2012-2018 target of 285 kilogrammes, a reduction of 20kg on the 2011 level. Picture supplied
DIVERTING WASTE KEY: According to the Waste Assessment 2017 13,409 tonnes of waste was sent to landfill from Gisborne in 2016/2017 — 258 tonnes weekly. Of this, more than half could realistically be diverted, including 26 percent of organic waste and 20 percent of plastics. Picture supplied
Waste Assessment

GENERATING electricity from rubbish, increasing specialist recycling, and district-wide composting are all ideas promoted to reduce Gisborne’s landfill waste. During each of the past three years Gisborne’s landfill waste has increased, with 296 kilograms per person going to landfill in 2016/2017 — more than half of which could be diverted.

While Gisborne has achieved 80 percent of its objectives set out in the district’s Waste Minimisation Plan 2012-2018, it has not met its per capita waste target of 285 kilograms, a reduction of 20kg on the 2011 level.

The Waste Assessment 2017 was presented to a meeting of the council’s environmental planning and regulations committee highlighting the issues and potential solutions to Gisborne’s waste problems. It provided an overview of how the district has performed in its waste minimisation targets, and set out recommendations for the next plan, with a draft to be developed before the end of the year. It included analysis of a waste survey, carried out by Waste Not Consulting in March this year.

3R Group’s Dominic Salmon, who prepared the report, said the increase in landfill waste in the last few years was likely a reflection of the current growth in the local economy.

“Waste overall has increased since 2014, but it is in line with population and economy growth.”

Gisborne’s per capita waste was low compared to other districts. However, taking into account the semi-rural areas, low level of manufacturing and industrial activity, and presence of class 2 landfills near the city, brought it to mid-range nationally. Its domestic recycling was on average.

Major issues to consider for the next plan were diverting organic and recyclable materials from landfill and addressing where the waste ended up, Mr Salmon said.

“Of the nearly 14,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill each year, realistically about a third could be recovered. But in a perfect world up to 60 percent of that could be diverted.”

Organic waste diversion

More than a quarter of the waste (26 percent) was organic waste (food and garden), despite the council distributing about 2000 free compost bins and holding free composting workshops over the past decade. The cost of sending greenwaste and kitchen waste to landfill was nearly $300,000 a year.

This could be dealt with locally and used to improve the organic matter and productive water holding capacity of local horticultural and cropping land, the report said. There was a commercial composting service active in Gisborne for businesses, but Mr Salmon said more could be done for household organic waste.

The report also found issues with Gisborne’s recycling system, with 100 less tonnes of recyclable materials being collected than in the previous year. This could be attributed to reasons outside of council control such as the light weighting of packaging products, increased consumer choice and a reduction in printed media. With plastics making up 20 percent of Gisborne’s landfill waste and paper 12.6 percent there could also be more specialist recycling services for items that were difficult to recycle.

In a “perfect world” introducing a product stewardship scheme for priority products would be the best long-term solution, Mr Salmon said. “Having the disposal put back on the producer for those items that are difficult to recycle, including tyres. It then becomes a circular, rather than linear, system.” The northern part of the district had access to the Waiapu landfill while the rest of Gisborne’s general landfill waste was sent 310 kilometres away to the Tirohia landfill in Paeroa.

Are landfills even the answer?

The report raised the question of continuing to rely on landfill for waste disposal, collaborating on waste disposal with closer regions, and alternative waste technology, which included producing electricity from waste. There were schemes around the world that used gasification — incinerating waste at a high temperature but with low oxygen, so it did not create emissions but could produce electricity.

“It is very clean technology, tried and tested around the world. If you looked at alternative waste technology as an idea for Gisborne, you could look at energy supply, reduction of waste transportation costs and emissions.”

Visit the council’s What’s the Future Tairawhiti webpage to place any comments, ideas or feedback on waste management in the district.

Ongoing recycling issues

In Gisborne many residents sort their recyclable materials from their general waste yet return to pick up their black bins only to find “recyclable” items remain. Mr Salmon said even though items had a recycling symbol on them it did not mean they could be recycled here.

“Just because it has a recycling logo on it does not mean it is recyclable in New Zealand.”

The most common item was Tetrapaks, often used to hold liquids. Those found in New Zealand are produced for the Australian market, where they can be recycled. However, due to them being made out of seven different materials, including different plastics and cardboard, they require special, expensive machinery, not available in New Zealand at present.

Recyclable

Plastics: bottles, containers, cleaning bottles. Make sure it has the symbols 1-7 only.

Paper materials: clean paper, cardboard, newspaper, flyers, magazines.

Glass: unbroken bottles and jars.

Metals: aluminium and tin cans, empty aerosol cans.

Items not recyclable here

(but which people commonly attempt to recycle)

Plastics: Soft plastics including plastic bags, wrapping, packaging, bubble wrap, toys, polystyrene meat trays. Note, even if they have the symbols 1-7.

Mixed items: These include Tetrapak cartons and takeaway cups.

Glass: Broken glass, light bulbs, mirrors, cookware, Pyrex, crockery.

Metals: Pots, pans, car parts, mixed media.

Other: Clothing, shoes, textiles, hazardous items like batteries, gas bottles, chemicals, ash or paint.

GENERATING electricity from rubbish, increasing specialist recycling, and district-wide composting are all ideas promoted to reduce Gisborne’s landfill waste. During each of the past three years Gisborne’s landfill waste has increased, with 296 kilograms per person going to landfill in 2016/2017 — more than half of which could be diverted.

While Gisborne has achieved 80 percent of its objectives set out in the district’s Waste Minimisation Plan 2012-2018, it has not met its per capita waste target of 285 kilograms, a reduction of 20kg on the 2011 level.

The Waste Assessment 2017 was presented to a meeting of the council’s environmental planning and regulations committee highlighting the issues and potential solutions to Gisborne’s waste problems. It provided an overview of how the district has performed in its waste minimisation targets, and set out recommendations for the next plan, with a draft to be developed before the end of the year. It included analysis of a waste survey, carried out by Waste Not Consulting in March this year.

3R Group’s Dominic Salmon, who prepared the report, said the increase in landfill waste in the last few years was likely a reflection of the current growth in the local economy.

“Waste overall has increased since 2014, but it is in line with population and economy growth.”

Gisborne’s per capita waste was low compared to other districts. However, taking into account the semi-rural areas, low level of manufacturing and industrial activity, and presence of class 2 landfills near the city, brought it to mid-range nationally. Its domestic recycling was on average.

Major issues to consider for the next plan were diverting organic and recyclable materials from landfill and addressing where the waste ended up, Mr Salmon said.

“Of the nearly 14,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill each year, realistically about a third could be recovered. But in a perfect world up to 60 percent of that could be diverted.”

Organic waste diversion

More than a quarter of the waste (26 percent) was organic waste (food and garden), despite the council distributing about 2000 free compost bins and holding free composting workshops over the past decade. The cost of sending greenwaste and kitchen waste to landfill was nearly $300,000 a year.

This could be dealt with locally and used to improve the organic matter and productive water holding capacity of local horticultural and cropping land, the report said. There was a commercial composting service active in Gisborne for businesses, but Mr Salmon said more could be done for household organic waste.

The report also found issues with Gisborne’s recycling system, with 100 less tonnes of recyclable materials being collected than in the previous year. This could be attributed to reasons outside of council control such as the light weighting of packaging products, increased consumer choice and a reduction in printed media. With plastics making up 20 percent of Gisborne’s landfill waste and paper 12.6 percent there could also be more specialist recycling services for items that were difficult to recycle.

In a “perfect world” introducing a product stewardship scheme for priority products would be the best long-term solution, Mr Salmon said. “Having the disposal put back on the producer for those items that are difficult to recycle, including tyres. It then becomes a circular, rather than linear, system.” The northern part of the district had access to the Waiapu landfill while the rest of Gisborne’s general landfill waste was sent 310 kilometres away to the Tirohia landfill in Paeroa.

Are landfills even the answer?

The report raised the question of continuing to rely on landfill for waste disposal, collaborating on waste disposal with closer regions, and alternative waste technology, which included producing electricity from waste. There were schemes around the world that used gasification — incinerating waste at a high temperature but with low oxygen, so it did not create emissions but could produce electricity.

“It is very clean technology, tried and tested around the world. If you looked at alternative waste technology as an idea for Gisborne, you could look at energy supply, reduction of waste transportation costs and emissions.”

Visit the council’s What’s the Future Tairawhiti webpage to place any comments, ideas or feedback on waste management in the district.

Ongoing recycling issues

In Gisborne many residents sort their recyclable materials from their general waste yet return to pick up their black bins only to find “recyclable” items remain. Mr Salmon said even though items had a recycling symbol on them it did not mean they could be recycled here.

“Just because it has a recycling logo on it does not mean it is recyclable in New Zealand.”

The most common item was Tetrapaks, often used to hold liquids. Those found in New Zealand are produced for the Australian market, where they can be recycled. However, due to them being made out of seven different materials, including different plastics and cardboard, they require special, expensive machinery, not available in New Zealand at present.

Recyclable

Plastics: bottles, containers, cleaning bottles. Make sure it has the symbols 1-7 only.

Paper materials: clean paper, cardboard, newspaper, flyers, magazines.

Glass: unbroken bottles and jars.

Metals: aluminium and tin cans, empty aerosol cans.

Items not recyclable here

(but which people commonly attempt to recycle)

Plastics: Soft plastics including plastic bags, wrapping, packaging, bubble wrap, toys, polystyrene meat trays. Note, even if they have the symbols 1-7.

Mixed items: These include Tetrapak cartons and takeaway cups.

Glass: Broken glass, light bulbs, mirrors, cookware, Pyrex, crockery.

Metals: Pots, pans, car parts, mixed media.

Other: Clothing, shoes, textiles, hazardous items like batteries, gas bottles, chemicals, ash or paint.

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