Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 23 March 2017

Our plan for reducing waste

One of the biggest challenges we face as a district and a nation is disposing of the mountain of rubbish we produce each year. We are a throwaway society and that is evident in the staggering volume of rubbish we bury in the ground each year.

In 2015/16, the Far North district sent just under 20,000 tonnes of waste to landfill. That equates to about 320 kg per person. Clearly this is not sustainable. Landfills are expensive to operate and it costs a lot of money to truck waste to landfills outside the district.

Landfills also release methane and have the potential to contaminate underground water, so they pose a threat to the environment and public health. It is hard to imagine our children and their children will thank us for leaving them a stinking pile of rubbish. We need to do better and we can do better.

The Council is currently seeking community feedback on a Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan that aims to reduce the waste people in the district send to landfill each year to 200 kg per person by 2023. This is an ambitious goal, but a necessary one if we are to become a more sustainable district.

The draft plan is designed to make it easier for people to recycle and it includes proposals to develop resource recovery centres in Waipapa/Kerikeri and Russell, as well as new community recycling centres at Mangamuka, Matawaia, Oruaiti, Pamapuria, Te Tii, Waiharara, Waima and Waitangi.

The plan also proposes to campaign for a national refundable deposit on drink containers and develop a regional forum to tackle illegal rubbish dumping. We all produce waste and every one of us will be affected by this plan, so I strongly urge you to provide feedback on what we are proposing before we finalise the plan on 11 May.

We are accepting submissions until 18 April, so there is plenty of time to find out more and have your say by going to the FNDC website or visiting a Council service centre. Of course, this plan alone won’t enable us to meet our waste minimisation goals. We will still rely on households and businesses to make use of the extensive network of recycling centres and services the council and private contractors provide.

The plan also won’t stop people from buying consumer products with packaging that can’t be recycled, nor will it force them to reuse things as many times as possible before putting them in the rubbish.

Many of us already recycle, but too many people are still putting waste in their rubbish bags that it is biodegradable or can be recycled. We all need to reduce, reuse and recycle so the Far North becomes a place our children and their children will thank us for. Please think of your children’s future next time you are about to chuck something out.



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