Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council says a court decision to fine a Tauranga company $70,000 for repeatedly discharging an objectionable odour from its pet food factory sends a strong message that it’s not acceptable to breach the environmental rules and that the Regional Council will take enforcement action when required.
Alpine Export NZ Limited was prosecuted by the Regional Council for discharging odorous compounds to air from its pet food manufacturing factory on four separate occasions and for failing to comply with an abatement notice on the same four occasions. The company pleaded guilty to the eight charges.
Regulatory Compliance Manager, Matt Harrex, says from 2015 to 2022 the Regional Council received more than 1,100 odour complaints from the public about the Alpine site.
“People would typically describe the odour as ‘old or off meat’ being cooked down, leaving them feeling like they want to heave. Residents living within approximately 300m of the factory were affected by the odours over this period, so it’s had a big impact," he says.
Until recently, Alpine manufactured pet food from raw meat products at its factory in the Judea Industrial Estate in Tauranga. The raw pet food mixture was placed on cooking trays and put into commercial ovens for air-drying to create a jerky type of product. The air-drying process produced odorous compounds which went through a treatment process before being discharged to air via the oven’s exhaust stacks. Alpine did not have a resource consent to discharge contaminants to air from this site.
Between August 2019 and August 2021, the Regional Council issued five infringement notices relating to odour discharges from the site.
"For those that repeatedly called the Pollution Hotline, it has been a long road and we're grateful they continued to call and stick with us. We know it's a slow and sometimes frustrating process for residents, but it's their calls that have led us to identify the cause of the odours and come to a resolution. Alpine were not able to meet the air quality rules, and ultimately, this has led to them relocating," says Mr Harrex.
Alpine is in the process of relocating its factory operations away from Tauranga and ceased processing pet food at its Judea factory in early-November 2023.
Judge Kirkpatrick said the odours affected peoples’ enjoyment of their properties and ability to undertake their everyday life.
“The company was on notice regarding odour discharge issues following complaints, infringement notices, the abatement notice, and formal warning letters. While steps were taken by Alpine to address the odour following each incident, the incidents point to an ongoing problem with its odour management,” says Judge Kirkpatrick.
For more information on environmental enforcement and to view the sentencing decision, please visit our website boprc.govt.nz/environmental-enforcement