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Waste at home

Getting started

To start we suggest checking out some fantastic resources already available, including:

  • The Rubbish Trip: Hannah and Liam started zero waste living in 2015 and have put together some really handy guides and tips about how to reduce waste. Check out their article 'Zero Waste Grocery Shopping New Zealand'.
  • Zero Waste in NZ! explore the posts in this Facebook group. It has thousands of members all trying to make some changes in their lifestyle to reduce their waste. Combines, there is a wealth of experience on the page from people who are more than happy to respond whenever someone posts a question about waste.  
  • There are plenty more, including Living Zero Waste in New Zealand and Rubbish Free.

Tips

Start with an audit of all of the waste you produce as a household: rubbish and recycling.

  1. Determine the time frame of your audit. Will you be auditing a day, week, or fortnight worth of waste?
  2. Set down a tarp, newspaper, or other protective covering on the floor before you begin the audit. Ideally, you’ll find an indoor space so no rubbish blows away, but opt for tiled floors instead of carpet so any leaks can be cleaned up easily.
  3. Go through your waste and list each item. For each recurring item, add a tally mark next to the written item.
  4. Once you’ve been through all of your waste, organise the list of items from highest frequency to lowest.
  5. This will give you a visual roadmap that will help you figure out where you can make the biggest impact.

Every household is different and things like your lifestyle and family size will determine your most common items, but the top items are likely to include organic waste, plastics and other packaging, sanitary items (period products and nappies), and clothing.

Organic waste

About half of the waste we put out for kerbside rubbish collection is organic waste (garden and food waste) which doesn’t need to be put in to our landfill – and we don’t want it there!
Organic waste doesn’t break down properly in landfill. It is compacted down so tightly so that there is no oxygen in the system, which means it can’t compost, and instead produces carbon dioxide, methane and leachate.

Take a look at some organic waste disposal options to help you reduce your organic waste at home. 

Plastics and other packaging

The build-up of plastic in the environment has become a top concern for New Zealanders. Recent studies show that 72 per cent of people are concerned about this issue.
By choosing to shop differently we can reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other packaging we are using. With these personal changes we are also telling producers that we don’t want over-packaged, wasteful products, which will encourage them to change.

For information on shops that use less packaging or businesses that offer refills of things like dry foods, spices, nuts, beauty and cleaning products, check out The Rubbish Trip’s handy Hawke’s Bay zero waste shopping guide and interactive map.

Sanitary items

Sanitary items (pads, tampons, nappies and wet wipes) make up about 14 per cent of Hastings’ kerbside rubbish collection! This isn’t surprising considering the most common types of sanitary items are designed to be used only once.

There are currently no ways to recycle sanitary items, however there are so many other reusable options out there that you can use over and over again – which will save you money and reduce your waste footprint.

Nappies

If a family is using only disposable nappies, each of their babies will use between 4900 and 5900 disposable nappies before they are fully toilet-trained – all of them going to landfill. This is a huge cost, and these nappies will take up to 500 years to break down in the landfill.

Pads and tampons

The average woman uses 11,000 tampons over her lifetime. Flushing tampons down the toilet is a big no-no as these tampons end up clogging our waste water plants. Tampons and pads (and their associated plastic wrapping) sent to landfill will take up to 500 years to break down.

There are many alternatives to single-use period products that will save you money and they are much better for the environment than single use options.
Options include menstrual cups, reusable pads, or ‘period undies.’

Wet wipes

When wet wipes are flushed down the toilet, they can cause blockages that can pollute our waterways.

Your pack says ‘flushable’ wet wipes?

There are some products that say they are flushable, but you could technically flush many things down the toilet – that doesn’t mean they won’t clog up the wastewater system and take years to biodegrade.

Many of us are unaware that the majority of wet wipes contain plastic and other synthetic materials, which means they don’t disintegrate like toilet paper.
Wet wipes lurk in pipes and bind with fat to create rock-hard ‘fat bergs’, which cause blockages and, potentially, wastewater overflows. If a blockage or overflow happens with your pipe system, you or your landlord will have to fix the blockage. That can cost you a lot of money.

What can you do?

Use reusable cloths to reduce the number of wet wipes you’re using. You can buy these new or second-hand, or cut up some old towels in to smaller squares. Just wash, dry and reuse.
If you must use wet wipes, make sure you dispose of them in the rubbish bin.

Coffee cups

An estimated 200 million single-use coffee cups are thrown away in NZ every year - that’s more than 40 cups per person!

Using a reusable coffee cup is the best option to keep them out of the landfill. Many of us are misled by the claims that some single-use cups are ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’, however there are very few options for recycling or composting them in New Zealand. Instead the vast majority goes to the landfill where they don’t break down properly, instead producing greenhouse gases. On the off-chance that the cups are collected separately for specialist recycling, this doesn’t change our wasteful habits of using things once before throwing them away.

Check out this article on University of Canterbury article research into single use coffee cups.

Instead of single-use or compostable cups, plates or cutlery, use reusable options. If you must use compostable single-use then make sure you collect it up and add it to your home compost or send it to BioRich – give them a call first to check whether they will accept the type you have.

You can also do your bit by supporting local businesses who are moving away from single-use coffee cups completely, or if you’d like your favourite coffee shop to stop using single use cups let them know!

Textiles

It’s estimated that 11 per cent of the rubbish that goes to Hastings’ Henderson Road Transfer Station is textile waste. In New Zealand we’re throwing away over 143,820 tonnes a year, which equates to 3560 tonnes in Hastings and Napier alone!

What can you do to reduce textile waste?

  1. Buy pre-loved clothes rather than new. Take a look at your local ‘op shop’ where there are good finds and bargains to be had. We’ve put together a handy map for you of the different Op Shops around Hastings.
  2. Learn how make small repairs to clothing such as replacing buttons and fixing tears, or find a tailor to make those repairs so your clothes last longer.
  3. Try to buy fewer items.
  4. When you buy an item of clothing try to buy good quality garments that will last longer.
  5. Buying New Zealand-made products will likely have lower manufacturing and transport emissions.
  6. Buy natural fibres if possible. A single clothes wash can release about 700,000 plastic particles from synthetic fibres, with polyester the worst offender. Cotton clothes can be used as rags at the end of their life but most synthetic fabrics have to go to the landfill when they wear out.
  7. Don't throw unwanted clothes away; ask if friends or family want them, or drop them off at a local op shop. If you are donating clothes, make sure they are in good condition otherwise you may just be passing a problem onto the op-shops to deal with.

Managing organic waste

Organic waste (often referred to as green waste) includes garden waste such as lawn clippings, plant trimmings, weeds and soil, and food scraps, including peelings, left overs, cores, bones and skin.

There are ways you can manage your organic waste in your home, to ensure it does not go to landfill.

Garden waste is not allowed to be put into the Council-supplied wheelie bins as we want to keep this waste out of landfill. Kitchen waste is allowed in your rubbish, however we encourage you to look at other disposal options as it also is no good in our landfill.

Why we don’t want it in landfill

Almost half of the waste going into the landfill is organic waste. It is a serious problem because of the way the landfill has to be managed. Mixed in with other waste and compacted underground with no oxygen means it cannot break down and rots very slowly – which creates methane gas and leachate that threaten the environment, including  contributing to climate change.

Organic waste also takes up a lot of room, so the landfill pit will need to be replaced much earlier than it should be.

Organic waste options

Green waste wheelie bin

Contact a privately-owned kerbside wheelie bin provider to purchase a green waste pickup service. These providers often have different bin sizes and collection frequencies that you can choose from.

If you think you don’t produce enough garden waste to justify a bin, consider going in with your neighbours for a shared service and split the costs.

Most green bin operators will accept some food scraps in these bins, such as vegetable peelings but check with them first. To find a supplier, search ‘garden waste services Hawke’s Bay’ on the internet.

Transfer stations

Drop off your garden waste at a Hastings Transfer Station. You need to keep it separate from your general rubbish so it stays out of landfill. That will also save you money, as it costs less to drop off than general rubbish.

Compost

Composting is good for the environment as it allows food and garden waste to break down naturally with oxygen. This means it does not release the harmful greenhouse gases that it does when buried in a landfill. Composting turns unavoidable food waste into nutrients that can feed your garden.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO COMPOST CLICK HERE

You can compost most garden waste and some household waste, such as food scraps, hair and fur, egg cartons, newspaper, tissues, and egg shells.
Things you shouldn’t put in your compost include:

  • Cooked and processed foods such as bread, pasta and meat, unless they have been treated in a bokashi system first.
  • Noxious weeds – these seeds will sprout again wherever you put your compost.
  • Dog and cat poo.
  • Oil and other liquids.

Worm farm

Worm farms are ideal for people who have limited space or don’t have a garden, as they can be kept in your garage, shed or basement. While worm farming may sound daunting, it is actually less technical than composting. However, the worms do require a little care and they need time to build up their population in order to process large amounts of food scraps.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO WORM FARM CLICK HERE

Worm farms can take most food scraps as well as coffee grounds and tea bags, egg shells, paper and cardboard, and manure from small animals like rabbits.
Things you should not put in your worm farm include:

  • Spicy foods, chilli, onion and garlic
  • Meat and milk products
  • Bread and pasta
  • Cooked or processed food
  • Citrus or acidic foods (though small amounts are okay)
  • Oils, and liquids such as soup

Bokashi bins

Unlike traditional composting that requires airflow, Bokashi is anaerobic composting, meaning food decomposes without oxygen in a sealed container. The food decomposes much faster this way with the assistance of the ‘zing’ that is mixed in with the food.

This style of composting can compost all your scraps from the kitchen, including leftovers, meats and cheese which you shouldn’t add to regular composting systems, and onions and citrus which you can’t put in a worm farm. The bucket can also be stored in your kitchen as the system doesn’t get smelly.

Bokashi does not require stirring or aeration like regular composting. It also does not need carbon rich materials, such as leaves or newspapers to compost successfully – it can be purely food scraps.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO MANAGE A BOKASHI SYSTEM GO HERE.

BioRich

201 Waitangi Road, Awatoto, Napier

Disposing of green waste directly to BioRich is a cost-effective option as, apart from the gate fee, there are no additional handling or transport costs. BioRich is an organic waste recycling company which turns organic material into compost.

Visit the BioRich website for more information.

Talk to the Environment Centre for more advice on composting, worm farming, and bokashi bins.

Hazardous waste

There is no pretty way of saying this: Do not put hazardous waste (garden and pool chemicals etc.) in your rubbish. It is dangerous to the collectors and the environment. On this page you can find out what to do with it.

Particular care must be taken when disposing of waste classed as hazardous. Many products used commonly in the home or garden are a particular danger to the environment, even in small quantities.

Containers holding hazardous waste (even if empty) must not be put out with the recycling or mixed in with general rubbish. It is illegal to tip hazardous waste into stormwater drains and containers that have held hazardous waste should not be burnt as they can give off toxic fumes.

Products that are hazardous have the classification on the labelling and these types of products should always be kept in their original packaging.
A product is considered hazardous (and must be marked as such) if it is:

  • Flammable
  • Toxic
  • Explosive
  • Corrosive
  • Radioactive

Hazardous products commonly found in the home include paint, pool chemicals, disinfectants, drain cleaners, gas cylinders, batteries, acids, garden sprays and insect baits.

So how to manage these products?

The first consideration should be to buy only what you need so there is no waste to be disposed of. However, no matter how careful we are, there is always that little bit of paint or chemical residue to get rid of, and, of course, the containers.

First check the container to see if it has disposal instructions on it. In some cases the manufacturer will handle the waste and containers if they are returned to their agent. For example, some paint suppliers will take all paint and paint containers, with a small charge levied on tins that are not their brand.

Hazardous waste collection

A free once-a-year hazardous waste service for householders is provided by Hastings District Council and Napier City Council. Find out more on the Hazmobile page.

Hazardous waste advice

For more information contact:
Ministry for the Environment
+64 4 917 7400
+64 4 917 7523
PO Box 10326, Wellington, New Zealand

WorkSafe
0800 030 040
+64 4 897 7699
PO Box 165, Wellington, New Zealand

Environment Risk Management Authority
+64 4 473 8426
+64 4 473 8433
PO Box 131, Wellington, New Zealand

Upcycle or donate

There are a bunch of ways to get rid of larger items you no longer want or need. On this page we give you some of them – give them some thought when you are replacing home items such as curtains and furniture.

Can it be reused...

Maybe you don’t need those curtains or blinds any more, or that piece of furniture, light-fitting, carpet, or bedding – but could you update it, or find someone else who will?

Upcycling is not only good for the environment by keeping items out of the landfill, it is an increasingly popular hobby and, for some, a way to top up their income.

If you are unable to give something a new life with a lick of paint or new fabric you have a range of options for helping it be revived by someone else.

Options, depending on the item and its condition, include:

  • Listing it for sale or giveaway on one of the many on-line sites.
  • Taking it to an auction house or second-hand shop for resale.
  • Gifting it to a charity shop for resale.
  • Contacting local artists who specialise in revamping furniture.
  • Donating suitable items to charities such as curtain banks.
  • Finding a second-hand whiteware seller who will take non-working machines off your hands, fix it and then sell it (you won’t see any money but you’ll have saved it from the landfill).
  • If you have tired bikes and kids toys that need some work, find and organisation such as Menz Shed. The members often repair things and then donate them to charities or sell them to raise funds for their organization.

VIEW A MAP OF HASTINGS OP SHOPS HERE

If you do have a go yourself the results can be very cool, particularly if you are using older furniture with a weight and character that is hard to find today; or a light fitting that will be a one-off piece that will shine in your home once it has had a spray paint.

Looking for inspiration? Searching ‘upcycling projects nz DIY’ on-line brings up a raft of information, ideas and projects.

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