44-50% of Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri's rubbish ends up in landfill that could have been diverted to recycling and other environmentally friendly systems.
We need to use the right bins and stop contaminating trucks.
I started my reducing waste journey some years ago because of my love for animals and the environment. I remember as a kid recycling aluminum cans when we went camping so I could buy more lollies at the campstore. I also thought it was cool to take a crate of empty bottles to the Double R place in Wainoni and swap for lots of flavoured soda. More recently my family received brown paper wrapped presents for xmas and handmade reusable name tags which they loved. My mum has also got really good at recycling which I’m sure is my influence!
However, with the increase of plastics for everything, the amount of rubbish in both landfills and littered into our environment is phenomenal. New Zealand could be sending nearly 9000 tonnes of plastic into the environment each year by 2030 – and that doesn't include the containers of waste we're shipping overseas to be buried or burnt.
That's according to a new analysis that's found enough plastic to fill two Westpac Trust Stadiums could be flowing into the world's oceans, rivers and lakes every day by the end of the decade, if countries fail to seriously rein in plastic pollution.
Our supposedly clean and green country has a high per-capita use of plastics. According to Plastics NZ, each of us consumes approximately 31kg of plastic packaging every single year - yet only recycles 5.58kg. It's also estimated Kiwi households churn through 1.76 billion plastic containers each year – and too much of it is going to our landfills instead of recycling centres.
A recent survey by the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand found households put nearly 100 million plastic drink and milk bottles in their rubbish bins instead of recycling them – with poor labelling and confusing rules across regions largely to blame.
When measured by weight, nearly 40 per cent of household plastic bottles and containers that could be recycled were going to landfill. Despite increasing awareness about our plastic woes, households still use more plastic containers than they do metal and glass containers combined.
Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri have a really good waste system but using them correctly is just as important. It’s hard to believe that we used to put everything into those black plastic bags. However, too much recoverable waste is going straight to landfill, e.g., 9.67% organic matter that should have been in the green bins, 27% recyclable waste (plastics, paper and cardboard, glass) that could have been in the yellow bins. In fact 43.51% is actually rubbish, the remainder has existing streams to recycle or dispose more environmentally friendly. In Waimakariri District an audit undertaken over 10 weeks (Oct 2020-Jan 2021) shows an average of over 50% of recycling trucks each week go to landfill due to contamination. (Christchurch City Council, 2018 and Waimakariri District Council),
Getting the right bins for our waste is the challenge now and there is a lot of useful info from the Christchurch City Council's website, Bin Good Game and Bin Good App which info covers Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts too.
We made our own popular info sheets you can find here: Get The Right Bins
But before we even get to the yellow, red and green bins there is a lot we can do to reduce waste.
The Eight R’s
Rethink – do you actually need it? We buy too much that we may want but don’t really need.
Refuse – Do those 2 apples really need a bag? Say no at the shop and checkout.
Reduce – Your own container will be better than a single use.
Reuse – The single use bread bag – reuse it as many times as you can!
Refurbish – The sofa will be cheaper to refurbish than replace and you’ll have little waste produced and support local craftspeople.
Repair – That hole in your sock is a great opportunity to teach sewing skills to your kids
Repurpose – Before you throw it away can you be clever and use it in a different way?
Recycle – is actually the last option if you can’t do anything with it above. Recycle can also mean to donate items to your local charity or just give for free on social media or out the front of your yard.
The main reasons we waste food are because we cook too much food, we don’t eat our leftovers and that food in the fridge and the freezer goes off. But we also waste a lot of food because we buy too much of it and don’t store it correctly. A compost bin or using the Green Organics Bin is a good solution but we need to get better at not wasting in the first place.
MenuAid is a brand new local enterprise app that reduces food waste and helps make mealtimes easier with weekly recipes and an editable shopping list. Love Food Hate Waste have great tips and online workshops
Try learning about drying, freezing and bottling foods to preserve summer's garden surplus;
Bulk buy, buy fresh and regularly at local Farmers Markets, Community Gardens and try foraging. Read more in the Sustainable Living learning guide on Food.
As much as plastics are a real problem there is a lot of good happening in this space. Microbeads in facewash, single-use plastic bags and plastic straws are on their way out. Beach and ocean clean ups are becoming more frequent and popular and our local recycling collections take a lot of plastic.
There are also loads of alternatives from cloth bags to reusable containers – there really is no excuse for single use plastics anymore.
The main actions are awareness and making small changes in our lifestyles. We don’t have to be perfect but we do need to be taking steps forward. Our page The Good Home covers a lot of this to enable us to make changes easily.
First is to not need plastic in the first place. There are a huge amount of alternatives out there and many are in our supermarkets too. Just search online for eco-products. Also take your own drink and food containers and use the many Refilleries, Bin Inns and bulk stores around New Zealand.
Our Yellow Bins – Take clean #1, 2 and 5 plastics but no lids or anything smaller than a yoghurt pottle goes in the red bin. Lots of info here.
Soft Plastics -The Soft Plastic Recycling bins are available for use at a number of stores; Countdown, The Warehouse, New World, Pak'nSave – 26 places across Christchurch and growing.
Community Recycling Hubs –
Check your pre-school too.
Batteries - Drop off: Bunnings Tower Junction, Bunnings Shirley, Countdown Ferrymead, EcoDrop Parkhouse Road, EcoDrop Metro Place, EcoDrop Styx Mill, Mitre 10 Mega Papanui.
Polystyrene – Drop off at Mitre10 Ferrymead, Hornby and Papanui (not for commercial waste)
Electronics – Molten Media, EcoDrop Bromley, Styx Mill and Parkhouse Road in Wigram Noel LeemingMorehouse Ave EcoTech Services in Sydenham, Kilmanock Enterprises in Wigram.
Mobile Phones and modems – Vodafone, Spark, 2Degrees, Noel Leeming and Resene, Stores, Orana Park and Kilmanock. Check out addresses at Re:Mobile
Reusing Plastics – Poly Lab and Remix Plastic,
Creative Junk– For drop off and great art, project resources, workshops and more
If you can’t find it in the list above check out here.
Consumerism - buy buy buy
Our passion for buying stuff is growing too. We buy so much more than in the 1950s with our garages and spare rooms now full of Stuff. We need to stop thinking everything is scarce and start looking around us that there is plenty for everyone. Each household does not need a sewing machine or drill that gets used once a year. Thankfully, the sharing movement is growing again – think of Toy and Tool Libraries, food and plant swaps. We’re good at passing baby clothes on but we can pass all good quality clothes and more on. The often surprising thing is that you save a lot of money too!
Local enterprise Mutu allows you to rent and lend items from people around you within our user-friendly app. If you aren’t into sharing then buy second hand! Often items are better made than now days and a lot more unique and interesting.
Another big consumerism and waste maker is fast fashion. Clothes no longer last years but only a season and we’ve gotten okay with buying items that only get used a couple of times. How much of your wardrobe do you actually wear? 10% is my guess. Buying less, buying quality that lasts, buying local and repairing are the main solutions. Some good info on Fast Fashion can be found at Tear Fund and they've just put out their Ethical Fashion Guide with ratings 2021. A cool community initiative that teaches you to repair, sew and about sustainable fashion is New Brighton Stitch-o-match
If you’re not into sewing then definitely buy second-hand. There are many great second hand places around, a great local FB Group is Second Hand Christchurch and even a Map for Greater Christchurch or New Zealand wide Directory
More reduce waste tips can be found at local educator Anthea’s zero-waste adventure on Eco Oikos and a great Zero-Waste in NZ supportive FB group
Making things yourself is also making a comeback which I find exciting as a crafty person. I love Rekindle’s workshops teaching fabulous resourceful skills. There’s also informal Stitch and Bitch knitting groups popping up. Support craft markets and have a go making your own. If you’re not into being crafty then definitely buy second-hand.
I still love buying people presents but will it just add to that person’s stuff? Will I just be adding to the amount of plastic and harm the environment? Thankfully there are some easy solutions, here are some that people really like; Mum to be there’s heaps of natural products and a ticket to Kate Meads waste-free parenting workshop is a winner. I went to one and learnt so much.
Toddler’s gifts can be bamboo toothbrushes, special clothes, books and toys that you can give that were your kids, bento ninja lunchbox will last years and a great local enterprise ecosplat have reusable water balloons. There is a lot around now that is environmentally friendly so no excuses. I keep a bunch of beautiful natural handmade soaps ready for quick gifts and I’ve heard of a wonderful eco present for a wedding including a beautiful box full of metal clothes pegs, keep cups, cotton dish cloths, bamboo toothbrushes etc. setting up the newly weds for eco-living.
Give experiences rather than things is especially good - tickets, vouchers, subscriptions - shows, movies, massages, restaurant meal and local treats; Tram, Willowbank, Orana Park, Gondola and memorable gifts like horse treks, fishing, food foraging and walking tours …. So much! Love to hear your ideas too.
Just one more for this huge tip – not only can you home be better at reducing waste but so can your workplace! At the very basic level your workplace should be composting and recycling. Be a leader, chat to the boss and get it happening (if its not). There are heaps of online support now for Sustainable Business so management/owners have no excuses!
Reduced Food Waste #3
Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions. There are numerous and varied ways to address key waste points. In lower-income countries, improving infrastructure for storage, processing, and transportation is essential. In higher-income regions, major interventions are needed at the retail and consumer levels. National food-waste targets and policies can encourage widespread change. Beyond addressing emissions, these efforts can also help to meet future food demand. Reduced Food Waste
Household Recycling #55 & Industrial Recycling #56
To produce new products from recovered materials requires fewer raw resources and less energy. That’s how recycling household, commercial, and industrial waste can cut emissions. Waste production multiplied tenfold over the last century and will likely double again by 2025. In high-income countries paper, plastic, glass, and metal comprise more than 50 percent of the waste stream—all prime candidates for recycling.
At least half of waste is industrial and commercial. Sources range from manufacturing, construction, and mines to restaurants, office buildings, and schools. Industrial and commercial recycling reduces emissions when new products are made from recovered materials, rather than virgin resources. Recycling needs to be one piece of an integrated approach, that also includes making more efficient use of materials and extending product life. Together, they can reduce emissions from extracting, transporting, and processing raw materials. Because society currently uses far more of these materials far more quickly than the earth can regenerate, such practices address parallel challenges of resource scarcity. Recycling
Recycled Paper #70
Paper use globally is on the rise, particularly for packaging materials. Roughly half of paper is used once and then sent to the proverbial scrap heap. But the other half is recovered and repurposed. Emissions of the paper industry is estimated to be as high as 7 percent annually.
Recycling makes paper’s journey circular, rather than a straight line from logging to landfill. Instead of relying on fresh timber to feed the pulping process—and releasing carbon with each tree cut—recycled paper draws on existing material, either discarded before reaching a consumer’s hands or, ideally, after serving its intended purpose. Instead of releasing methane as it decomposes in a landfill, wastepaper finds new life. Once recovered, used paper is shredded, pulped, cleaned, and rid of contaminants. It can then be made into any number of products, from office paper to newsprint to toilet paper rolls. A particular piece of paper can be reprocessed roughly five to seven times, before fibers are no longer viable. In addition to curbing emissions, recycled paper spares forests and reduces water use. Recycled Paper
Globally, we produce roughly 310 million metric tons of plastic each year. Almost all of it is petro-plastic, made from fossil fuels. Experts, however, estimate that 90 percent of current plastics could be derived from plants instead. They often have lower emissions and sometimes biodegrade.
Most bioplastics are used in packaging, but they are finding their way into everything from textiles to pharmaceuticals to electronics. Bioplastics can sequester carbon, especially when made from waste biomass. The big challenge for bioplastics is separation from other waste and appropriate processing. Bioplastics
#6 Reduce Waste
Join in Rubbish Talk over at
The Good Home on Facebook.
Reducing Waste covers a few of Project Drawdown's 100 solutions to reverse global warming, including:
New Zealand households throw away the equivalent to 271 jumbo jets of food per year.
All of this food is worth about $1.17 billion going to rot.
That amount of food could feed the population of Dunedin for nearly three years!