While local authorities are responsible for waste disposal, it is our waste that needs dealing with, so we all have an important role to play.
Avoiding more waste has to be the first principle – the very least we can do is reduce waste and help make the environment more sustainable.
According to the Timaru District Council, about 1000 tonnes of food scraps are going into the landfill each year.
This not only unnecessarily fills up the site and shortens its life, it also produces large amounts of methane gas through lack of oxygen when rubbish is buried.
Methane contributes to the serious negative impacts of climate change and global warming.
The three-bin system in the district, green for green waste, yellow for recycling and red for waste, is a simple and practical system.
Not sorting your waste makes the process for the council much more difficult, more costly and less effective. A little bit more effort could go a long way.
We have to pay for it through rates, so why not avoid these expensive mistakes in the first place?
In addition, compost is being made and sold from your green waste, and so it becomes a valuable resource.
The government introduced the Waste Minimisation Act in 2008, to encourage a reduction in the amount of waste we generate and dispose of.
The aim is to reduce the environmental harm of waste and provide economic, social and cultural benefits for New Zealand.
The Act encourages a recycling economy, which means looking beyond the current “take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model. It encourages:
Replacing toxic, single-use or non-recyclable resources.
New technologies that promote or support the recovery and reuse of resources.
Innovative products that avoid waste, or use, and add value to waste.
New services to take resources out of the waste stream and put them back into circulation.
Local infrastructure to support domestic recycling and community engagement.
Waste minimisation is one focus of the Timaru District Council’s 10-year plan, which people had a chance to submit on recently.
Ines Stager is a landscape architect based in Geraldine, a board member of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society and a committee member of the local branch.