Community Update on Karamea Waste Matters; October 2020
About ten years ago, a waste working group was established to enable Karamea to manage our landfill separately from the main facility in Westport, which is a transfer station. Westport sends all its non-recyclable waste to Nelson. The group went into recess for a few years but now we are back. We hope to help Sue-Ellen continue doing her good work as Site Manager.
At a community hui about a year ago, a glass crusher was put forward as a good thing for the community to invest in. Well, that started quite a lot of action from a group of locals. Probably the most important thing to come out of the suggestion was the reformation of a waste working group, which has now happened.
A lot of research and thought has resulted in the group deciding that a glass crusher machine is not a very economic proposition. Although we would have been able to purchase a machine that would pulverise glass into very fine dust, there was a cost of maybe $4000 per year to run and maintain it. There didn't appear to be anyone in the community willing to purchase this product at this price. The group has decided that it is best to isolate the glass in one place at the landfill and then to have it crushed by the digger on an occasional basis. As the glass is inert, it is not considered to be toxic in the landfill. We intend to make a better defined area at the landfill soon, so please do your bit by placing all bottles there.
Somewhat surprisingly, it's better for our environment (and economy) to buy beer in a can rather than a bottle (unless you are reusing the bottle for something).
Review all functions of our current system
We need to look at all aspects of our operation and make sure we are doing the best we can. We need to work in with Westport and the rest of New Zealand. For instance, plastic recycling has changed recently internationally as China has stopped taking some plastics. More changes from NZ Government are currently on the table with the proposal to ban some hard-to-recycle and single use plastics. The government's Waste Levy is set to increase over the coming years in line with the actual cost of dealing with our waste. In Karamea we are uniquely positioned to be able to lead by example so as a group we're keen to promote reduction NOW.
Our community needs to be prepared to adapt and change our buying behaviour. Do we need this item?
Do we need this item packaged this way?
We need to change our collection of recyclables. At this time we will make the appropriate changes to our signs, and inform our community.
We are also looking at making cost efficiencies with freighting our recyclables to Westport by crushing our cans and plastics before we send them through. You will be advised about any changes as needed.
Some of our group visited our 'parent' facility in Westport, and learnt a lot about what gets recycled, where it goes, and what is only rubbish and sent to landfill. We will give you more information about what we learned in future newsletters. Paper and cardboard was a major revelation – see below:
Paper and Cardboard
Most of us have been diligent about taking these to the landfill and putting them in the skip. But we have learnt after visiting Westport that these get sent to India and we pay for them to go to India. We think this doesn't make any sense at all, so we are now asking everyone to:
DISPOSE OF PAPER AND CARDBOARD AT HOME if possible.
If you can compost these items, or put them in a worm farm, or burn them, it is probably a better outcome than sending them to India. Glossies may be best sent to our landfill.
To REDUCE the amount of paper arriving at your place, you may want to request not getting Junk Mail delivered. (Although I like seeing some of this stuff, I have just requested 'No Junk Mail' from the Higgses - Hamish)
Roll out of various initiatives
We will be in touch with our community from time to time about any changes or improvements. Our main message will be to ask that we all do our bit to:
REDUCE as a first step,
REUSE next, then
As a final last resort, take a reluctant visit to the tip face to dispose of whatever can't be dealt with any other way.
Liz Kerslake and Hamish Macbeth for the newly re-formed Karamea Waste Management Group, in association with Sue Ellen, Karamea Landfill Site Manager