What follows is the vision of our ‘Far North Citizens Waste Minimisation Group’ and our request for support – that I gave via FNDC Annual Plan hearing video link on 6 May 2020 – to our Far North District Mayor and Councillors.
I know that 4 pilot resource recovery projects will add hugely to this year’s Annual Plan. I’m going to explain why. But first, a story from the Solomon Islands:
It is 2015 and I’m a volunteer management and accounting trainer who knows nothing more about rubbish than what I too can clearly see is gross – plastic floating out to sea.
“Jane, would you talk to our school about rubbish littering our coast?” Researching the topic before my first talk, I discover the enormity of the global waste crisis. Here I am, being looked up to as an ‘expert’ asked for advice, the assumption being that back home where I live in ‘developed’ New Zealand, we have wastefulness sorted!
It soon dawns on me that I’m preaching: I’m a case of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do!’
I return here to the Bay of Islands. I choose to complete a Masters researching Māori approaches to wastefulness and find ways to ‘walk the talk’ myself as a self-styled ‘Zero Waste Granny’.
Perhaps that longing to ‘walk the talk’ and reduce rubbish touches a chord in you too? It’s certainly brought a group of us here in the Far North together over lockdown to give practical voice to our common deepfelt feeling that wastefulness isnt ok. We aren’t looking for perfection, but seek that :
90% of what can be composted in the Far North will be composted
90% of what can be recycled will be recycled
FNDC’s current Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2017 – 2023 calls all of us to “Waste nothing of value or use while working towards zero waste” and
“Reduce the harmful effects of waste and improve the efficiency of resource use”
The strategic business plan our Far North Waste Minimisation Group has drafted – finding favour with local hapū and Pakeha alike – honours these council goals by increasing resource recovery capacity 3 ways :
- 15 Organic Farmlet enterprises collecting kitchen waste – small market gardening businesses solving a social issue
- 10 more Community Recycling drop-off stations – access for everyone as easy as to supermarkets
- 2 more full size Resource Recovery Centres – engaging in reuse, repair and repurposing
But why insert pilot resource recovery projects into this year’s annual plan?
1. Employment (1 tonne waste kept out of landfill is evidenced to create up to 10 jobs)
2. Community resilience – Around NZ more than 30% of kitchen waste goes to landfill. Its madness to be wasting this! 5+ A Day means 5 lots of 80g that’s 400g of fresh produce. We can do this easily in our district. And urban farms build local food security, create hubs for social cohesion and add wellbeing into neighbourhoods. Moreover as my own recent Masters research evidenced, people feel better when they recycle, compost and stop being so wasteful.
3.Climate change mitigation – recycling food waste reduces carbon emissions, so does less trucking waste out of the district while improving the quality of soil enhances biodiversity which in turn removes carbon from air .
Things have changed with Covid19. All 5 sectors of our Far North Economy …
iii. Those protecting and regenerating our common natural spaces and ecosystems on behalf of us all
v. Local & national government
…. are calling for regenerative recovery solutions.
This plan is excitingly simple, low cost, builds on tried and tested concepts and builds into the circular economy.
Our growing network of practitioners around the Far North wants to see the district not only achieve the goals of the waste minimisation plan but for our district to be demonstrating leadership to other districts by dealing with food waste at a community level.
2 pilot farmlets* and 2 pilot community recycling stations can be operational by the end of this year. A strategic business plan with costings is already drafted and 10 of us will meet again tomorrow night. We want to open discussions with council urgently.
Not only will these resource recovery pilots provide jobs, Community-led resilience and mitigate climate change mitigation , our network’s vision IS Council’s vision!
As the Mayor himself stated in 2017, regarding Council’s target of reducing landfill waste from 320kg in 2016 to 200kg by 2023 :
“This is an ambitious goal, but a necessary one, if we are to become a more sustainable District. We cannot keep building new landfills; they are expensive to operate, and harmful to the environment as there is potential ground water contamination and methane release to the atmosphere. They are also a legacy our children and their children won’t thank us for leaving them. We need to do better, and we can do better.