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Waste programme funding to create a more sustainable Kaipara

13 MF-SusKaiparagrant1 copy-777JULIA WADE

A new local environmental watchdog group has received a large government grant to help fight Kaipara’s waste and enhance the districts eco-green environment.

At a ceremony on July 9, newly-appointed directors of Sustainable Kaipara – Sarah Bray, Stephanie Gibson and Kate Matheson – met with associate environment minister Eugenie Sage, Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith, Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime and community members at Mangawhai Village’s community gardens. Green MP Sage says she was ‘really delighted’ to announce the $361,447 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) for waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara.

“It’s really ambitious what Sustainable Kaipara are planning to do… the new funding will allow them to partner with local schools, kura, community groups and businesses to assess their waste and develop long-term plans to avoid and reduce waste,” Sage says. “Currently there are no commercial compost or green waste facilities in the area. A second project is to conduct a feasibility study for a hot-rot compost facility in Mangawhai.”


Community adopts vision
Sustainable Kaipara was born after environmental conservation organisation Love Kaipara approached Plastic Free Mangawhai (PFM) members Bray, Gibson and PFM founder Matheson in 2019, to take over their waste minimisation work. Since PFM’s formation in 2017, the three women, along with volunteers, have helped increase awareness of the harm of plastics and the need to reduce waste.

The group’s vision to replace single-use plastics with reusable items inspired many Mangawhai residents, who initiated a range of creative ideas including

transforming dog food bags into carriers and forming a weekly group to refit t-shirts into shopping bags, which were then distributed to local stores.

Businesses, cafes and restaurants also took up the challenge, swapping takeaway food containers and takeaway cups with recyclable and reusable items, and stocking metal and compostable straws.

Sage says PFM’s history and Sustainable Kaipara’s vision ‘really impressed her’ and believes the group will make a big difference in the community.

“The team behind Plastic Free Mangawhai have achieved great results in the Mangawhai area… Stephanie, Kate and Sara are committed to diverting waste from landfill and their enthusiasm should help bring others on this journey, benefiting the local economy and the environment,” Sage says. “The formation of Sustainable Kaipara with the backing of Kaipara District Council (KDC) and funding support from the WMF should help them make a significant impact on waste reduction and management in the wider Kaipara district.”


A more circular economy
The funding allows an opportunity for the district ‘to build new industries and regenerate the environment through transitioning to a more circular economy where we eliminate waste and use our resources wisely’ Bray says.

"Through Closing the Loop we aim to work with the Kaipara community to really consider waste generation and support them to either design out the waste or to implement reuse or recycling options,” she says. “The compost project is the first step in localising our waste services and has the potential to not only reduce carbon emissions but to create a new industry in the Kaipara.”

A three year project, Closing the Loop will cost $345,147, with the WMF funding $315,147 with KDC contributing $30,000. The cost of the one year ‘compost options assessment and feasibility study and trial’ – using a revolutionary compost system designed by The Carbon Cycle Company – totals $47,500, with the WMF funding $46,300.

Sage says a collaborative effort across government, business and community organisations is required to ‘tackle New Zealand’s woeful track record’.

“New Zealand is one of the worst performers, sending more waste to landfill per capita than almost any other country in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development),” she says. “I’ve been told we’ve achieved more with waste in the last two and half years than in the previous decade, but am very aware we have so much further to go. Sustainable Kaipara’s approach aligns with the government’s strategy to invest in waste reduction programmes through the WMF.”

The ministry has a ‘big waste programme’ and Sage says she is looking forward to making more announcements over the next few weeks.

From left, directors of Sustainable Kaipara, Kate Matheson and baby Kai Brown, Stephanie Gibson with Georgia who opened the ceremony with a karakia, Sarah Bray, and MP Eugenie Sage, Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith, The Carbon Cycle Company owner Richard Wallis and Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime. “I got totally entranced talking compost bins,” said Sage. “Community involvement in changing the way we deal with waste motivates me as minister.” PHOTO/JULIA WADE


“It’s really ambitious what Sustainable Kaipara are planning to do… funding will allow them to develop long-term plans to avoid and reduce waste.”


Where your landfill revenue goes
The Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) is funded through the waste disposal levy that was introduced under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. The purpose of the Act is to encourage waste minimisation and a decrease in waste disposal.

“I know there is a controversial landfill being proposed down the road, but the revenue that comes from waste going to landfill, funds the WMF,” says MP Eugenie sage. “One of the key instruments to help discourage people from sending waste to landfill is to increase the levy, which we’ve had a lot of consultation over the last

18 months, which will lead to more revenue to recycle back into really good waste minimisation projects.”

Fifty per cent of the money collected from the levy is distributed to councils to spend in accordance with their Waste Management and Minimisation Plans. The remainder (minus administration costs) is used for the WMF, which is managed by the Ministry for the Environment.


The Carbon Cycle Company
Sustainable Kaipara’s chosen compost system to trial, The CarbonCycle Composter, is a construction of Kiwi ingenuity. Designed by the company’s chair and internationally recognised expert on composting, Richard Wallis, ‘a single community composter can convert over five tons of organic matter into compost per year’.

The rat-proof device is capable of turning leftovers, meat, fish and bones and garden cuttings into useable compost in just 12 weeks, including commercially compostable items such as biodegradable takeaway coffee cups and containers.

Made in New Plymouth from recycled aluminium and wood slats, the system decomposes items like most aerobic composts, but are said to be more efficient due to their size and structure, and are designed not to smell.

Check out carboncyclecompost.com.


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