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Waste fund saves rubbish mountain from landfill

Monday, 11 May 2015 10:00 a.m.

A new Bay of Plenty Regional Council fund has supported projects that have diverted more than 30 tonnes of waste from landfill, saved thousands in landfill fees and generated much-needed income for charitable trusts.

The Regional Council’s $50,000 Waste Resource Advisory Group (WRAG) contestable Fund was established last year to support local waste minimisation projects. Six projects were funded, covering a wide range of initiatives across Whakatane, Rotorua and Tauranga, and results have been achieved within six months of the fund being distributed.

They included projects to collect and re-sell construction waste, a food rescue project, organic waste diverted from cafes, waste education workshops, a marae-based zero waste project and community worm farming.

Senior Project Implementation Officer Reece Irving said 6.5 tonnes of waste construction materials destined for landfill had been collected from building sites, sorted and sold by Whakatane’s CReW organisation.

“In Tauranga the Good Neighbours Charitable Trust had provided 74,000 free meals created from cafe and supermarket food that had been headed to the skip. They’ve diverted more than 11 tonnes of food from landfill in the six months since they received their $15,000 WRAG grant.

“Rotorua District Council educated and provided worm farms to 70 local families so their food waste no longer ends up in the bin and is converted to garden compost instead. Tauranga City Council has collected more than 8.3 tonnes of coffee grounds from city cafes and diverted this from landfill to a composting facility where it is producing high-quality commercial compost that is on-sold to the public.”

He said the Mount Maunganui Gourmet Night Markets had trained 64 waste minimisation staff, who spread the reuse and recycling message to more than 60,000 people attending 13 events over the summer.

The WRAG Fund received 14 applications from 12 separate organisations representing businesses, community groups, local authorities and charitable trusts.

In the first six months CREW Whakatane had created a new indoor hardware section, a bathroom and kitchen showroom and areas to display joinery, timber, windows, doors and gib board. A second-hand trailer was being modified for the project.

Good Neighbours Trust had established a pool of 50 volunteers, five drivers and 30 food sorters. They distributed rescued food to 15 existing charities and diverted a total of 26 tonnes of edible food from landfill.

Rotorua District Council had held a worm farming workshop attended by 70 people, reducing food waste to landfill. In Tauranga 21 local cafes had signed up to take part in an organic waste collection, diverting 8.3 tonnes of waste from landfill to compost and saving about $5,500 in disposal fees.

The Gourmet Night Markets had hand-sorted and cleaned 3,900 kg of compost suitable for fertiliser and delivered workshops to 118 people. Their surveys showed 99.5 percent of people at the markets were aware of the emphasis on waste minimisation.

Raglan’s Para Kore Marae has appointed waste minimisation facilitators to work across marae in the Bay of Plenty and had held several hui to introduce their project locally.

Mr Irving said the fund had clearly had a positive impact on waste reduction initiatives across a range of activities, and had applied to have funding continue in future years.

Regional Council Regional Direction and Delivery Committee Chair Paula Thompson said the successes of the groups which used the funding showed how a small amount of assistance could go a long way in achieving positive results for the environment.