Let’s up game on plastic

LETTER

I would like to draw some attention to the amount of rogue plastic in the gutters and culverts around the city.

Wainui Rd is a really good case in point as most or maybe all of this plastic (yes, foam containers also) goes through the rear of the culvert grills and ends up in the ocean via the Crawford Rd drain.

So the local authority, through its street cleaning and monitoring contract, is essentially “allowing” plastic waste to enter the sea via the stormwater system.

The structure of the contract should be the net that prevents this happening. The plastic is literally “falling through the cracks’’, or the large diameter holes, in the council’s net.

This is nothing new, of course, as this city has been dosing the sea with plastic for many long years.

It’s apparent that street cleaning is done only on a very occasional basis; unlike years past, as some old-timers around will likely recall.

I have noted many times in the past where the same (one could assign these items a name here) plastic bottle, or bag, or some other container has been caught in the culvert grills or lies in the gutter awaiting a weather event for a couple of weeks, and longer, before being swept up and delivered most efficiently (without cost to the ratepayer) into our marina/harbour.

It’s an unacceptable practice/situation for a multitude of obvious reasons, and a situation at odds with the local authority’s standards or charter, I would think.

Well, to be sure, Gisborne District Council must have specific policy around rogue plastic etc in our town’s waterways et al, or do they? OK, well, given the benefit of the doubt, GDC is surely duty-bound to exercise due diligence regarding its policy on plastic disposal and needs to up its game on this — dramatically, from what I see in the streets.

Russ Jones

I would like to draw some attention to the amount of rogue plastic in the gutters and culverts around the city.

Wainui Rd is a really good case in point as most or maybe all of this plastic (yes, foam containers also) goes through the rear of the culvert grills and ends up in the ocean via the Crawford Rd drain.

So the local authority, through its street cleaning and monitoring contract, is essentially “allowing” plastic waste to enter the sea via the stormwater system.

The structure of the contract should be the net that prevents this happening. The plastic is literally “falling through the cracks’’, or the large diameter holes, in the council’s net.

This is nothing new, of course, as this city has been dosing the sea with plastic for many long years.

It’s apparent that street cleaning is done only on a very occasional basis; unlike years past, as some old-timers around will likely recall.

I have noted many times in the past where the same (one could assign these items a name here) plastic bottle, or bag, or some other container has been caught in the culvert grills or lies in the gutter awaiting a weather event for a couple of weeks, and longer, before being swept up and delivered most efficiently (without cost to the ratepayer) into our marina/harbour.

It’s an unacceptable practice/situation for a multitude of obvious reasons, and a situation at odds with the local authority’s standards or charter, I would think.

Well, to be sure, Gisborne District Council must have specific policy around rogue plastic etc in our town’s waterways et al, or do they? OK, well, given the benefit of the doubt, GDC is surely duty-bound to exercise due diligence regarding its policy on plastic disposal and needs to up its game on this — dramatically, from what I see in the streets.

Russ Jones

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Tony Robinson - 2 months ago
There is a Solution

Russ Jones makes a number of excellent points in his letter regarding our city's gutter plastic entering our waterways and eventually travelling a rather short journey into our ocean. I had very similar thoughts just last week as I picked up all the rubbish (which was mainly plastic) from the culvert on the corner of Lowe Street and Childers Road and put it in the nearby rubbish bin. While the solution is multifaceted I believe it is achievable. Firstly, we need a local campaign to reduce littering. This may sound obvious but I'm talking about first analysing the rubbish to identify sources (I pick up a lot of takeaway rubbish around town) then working with those businesses to develop and implement a waste responsibility program. Involving local rangatahi and educating them about where discarded street rubbish ends up is essential. Secondly, people need to use rubbish bins. Plain and simple. A bin on every block in the CBD (including Childers and Palmerston Road) would help. Finally, we need fine filter grills for the culverts. Obviously finer grills are more prone to blocking but I'm sure our Council and community could come up with a solution. I agree with Russ Jones that the Council does carry a burden to urgently address this ongoing issue but note that we all share the responsibility for our environment. To that end I challenge everybody to pick up litter when you see it.

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