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Opportunities and challenges for Bay’s rural waste

Friday, 26 September 2014 10:00 a.m.

Major recycling opportunities and potential environmental challenges have been highlighted in a new report into waste generated by rural Bay of Plenty and Waikato properties.

The report, commissioned by Bay of Plenty and Waikato Regional Councils supported by Opotiki, Thames-Coromandel, Waikato and Western Bay of Plenty district councils, was presented to a multi-agency meeting in Hamilton this week.

Environmental consultants GHD surveyed 69 properties which recorded 2564 tonnes of rural waste, an average 37 tonnes generated per property each year.

The waste ranged from various types of plastics, scrap metal, timber and fence posts to glass, batteries, construction and demolition material and domestic refuse. Property owners dealt with it by burying, burning or bulk storing it on site.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Project Implementation Officer Reeve Irving said if average waste figures were applied to the more than 14,000 farms in the two regions, more than half a million tonnes of rural waste was being disposed of on-farm annually.

“However, the report stresses it couldn’t be assumed that all of these properties would be generating similar amounts of waste. It indicates both major opportunities and potential challenges for Bay of Plenty and Waikato in dealing with rural waste.”

Nearly 80 per cent of those surveyed felt they could manage waste differently, and farmers were keen for more options.

"We’re keen to work with rural residents and the agricultural industry to identify practical, long-term solutions to the issues the report has identified,” Mr Irving said.

The report said there was an opportunity for better information and access to practical solutions developed in collaboration with the rural sector. It recommended more work on raising awareness of disposal and recycling options, working collaboratively to address issues and gaps, sharing information about best practice waste disposal and understanding the risks of on-farm waste management.

The study builds on similar work done by Environment Canterbury and is designed to feed into a wider project looking at how to manage rural waste nationally. A wide range of rural sector stakeholders, including rural associations, dairy companies and other rural sector organisations have also been involved in the project.

Chair of the Regional Council’s Regional Direction and Delivery Committee Paula Thompson said the survey provided a great opportunity to reduce the amount of waste on rural properties, and ensure fewer environmental issues from inappropriate disposal.

Read the Rural Waste Survey Analysis. Read the Waste and Resource Efficiency Strategy

Rubbish Dumped