New Zealanders collectively dump around 3.5 million tonnes of waste in landfills every year.
The big regulating Government think they are going to solve this problem with even more landfill taxes andpaying councils to collect even more plastics
which can’t be recycled in New Zealand,and are banned by the countries we used to wish-cycle them to.
Recent proposals from the Climate Change Commission and the Government to reduce methane gas emissions from landfills, include collecting food waste separately from general rubbish.
Auckland Council has a trial food waste collection system which it intends to roll out across the city, if it can find the budget to pay for a fleet of dozens more trucks, and hundreds of thousands of plastic bins for Aucklander’s kitchen scraps.It turns out that Councils original plan to process highly odorous and mostly liquid food waste in Auckland was not
feasible, so they are instead trucking the sludgehundreds of kilometresto Reporoa in the central North Island to mix with other composting waste.
This enormous waste of Council time and cost to ratepayers delivers a muchworse environmental outcome thanthe status quo, where food scraps go to local landfillsrunningmethane collection and gas to energy systems.
This is a case study for why Councils and Government should leave waste collection, processing and treatment solutions to experts, and simply set and monitor environmental performance targets.
Sincere efforts to recycle our way to a zero-waste future have failed and will continue to fail.
That is because many products are simply not viable to recycle, like the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic and foam rubber produced from shredding 150,000 end of life vehicles, eft over from sorting and recycling plastics and paper, and treated timber from demolition and building.
Five million used tyres arethorn away every year, with only a small volume used to replace coal in cement production.
Europe decided over twenty years ago to phase out landfills, because they believe that burying todays waste as a toxic gift to future generations is not just unethical, it is completely unnecessary.
The Danes chose waste to energy to complement their already high recycling rates, a country very similar to New Zealand, with unique environments and a valuable dairy industry. It makes sensefor New Zealand to now move quickly in that direction.
Project Keais giving new hope. The South Island Resource Recovery partnership, with the latest waste to energy innovations from Spain and China, intends to process 350,000 tonnes of waste currently dumped inlocal landfills.
Project Keasolves the major barrier to community acceptance,a high temperature plasma system thatcaptures and converts air emissions into molten glass,which can be safely reused in concrete and building products.
Carbon dioxide and heat will be directed to local glasshouses to support year-round cropping, and 32MW of surplus energy will be injected into the local power grid, enough to power around 20,000 homes.
ACT does not believe that landfills can or should be eliminated. They will always have a role. Similarly, recycling has a valuable role to play, but we should acknowledge that it is not a panacea. It is an industrial process that makes sense in some circumstances and not in others.
The Government has called for submissions on a national waste strategy. If you want real solutions to reduce waste to landfill, like Project Kea, make your submission beforeNovember 26. Tell the Government waste to energy must be part of the solution.