Aotea locals face landfill capacity challenges
Visitors and boaties to Great Barrier Island – plan to leave nothing behind
In a bid to drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfill on Aotea / Great Barrier Island, Auckland Council rolled out major changes to the island’s waste services in July 2019.
The significant shift in waste services was necessary given that the Claris Landfill is nearing capacity. Although consented until 2027, council estimates that if current waste volumes are not dramatically cut back, the landfill may reach capacity well before that date.
One of the key changes was to waste services for visitors and boaties who head for the island paradise over the summer holiday period.
“A huge influx of visitors arrives on Aotea / Great Barrier between December and February – sometimes in excess of 1,000 people a day, numbers far in excess of the island’s permanent population. While tourism plays a vital part in the local economy, summertime visitors place huge pressure on the limited waste infrastructure on the island,” says Parul Sood, General Manager Waste Solutions.
Sood says that the remaining landfill capacity needs to be preserved to meet the needs of Aotea’s permanent residents.
“This meant we needed to make radical changes. Over the summer, Auckland Council launched a major campaign for boaties and visitors to ask them to ‘pack in and pack out’ and take their waste home with them, wherever possible. Quite simply, our philosophy for visitors and boaties is: ‘plan to leave nothing behind’,” says Parul Sood.
"This ‘pack in, pack out’ approach is widely in place across the islands of the Hauraki Gulf and is a commonly adopted practice for other territorial authorities as well as the Department of Conservation (DoC).”
Port Fitzroy summer waste drop-off service
Council trialled a new summer waste drop-off service for visitors and boaties at Port Fitzroy between 20 December 2019 and 1 February 2020.
The service was well-used with between five and 30 visitors and boaties - averaging 10 per day - dropping off their waste each day.
Over the six-week period, almost 5.8 tonnes of waste was dropped off, including waste that was left near the drop-off point outside of opening hours. Just under half of the volume dropped off was recyclable materials.
Local waste contractors dealt with five cases of illegal dumping over the same period, with around 1.5 tonnes collected. The waste was dumped predominantly at Port Fitzroy (1.2 tonnes), with small volumes also left at Tryphena and Whangaparapara.
Following the closure of the summer drop-off service on 1 February, some visitors have continued to leave their waste near the wharf at the closed waste drop-off station. Yesterday, the waste contractor, Aotea Contractors, collected around 1.13 tonnes of waste, which had accumulated since the last weekly Monday roadside rubbish collection.
“We’re appealing to visitors and boaties to make a real effort to take their waste away with them,” says Sood. “Now that the summer drop-off service has closed, we all need to adopt a new mindset where Aotea / Great Barrier is seen as a tourist destination but not a waste destination.”
Sood says that Auckland Council will be working with the local community to evaluate the results of the summer drop-off service and to look for sustainable waste solutions that maximise resource recovery and recycling on the island, minimise illegal dumping of waste, and support the island to move towards its vision of zero waste to landfill by 2040.
Call 0800 NO DUMP to report illegally dumped waste
If you see waste illegally dumped in public places, call Auckland Council’s Illegal Dumping Hotline, 0800 NO DUMP (0800 663 867) which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call the Aotea / Great Barrier Service Centre on 09 429 0258 to report it. Eyewitness reports or camera footage may provide Auckland Council with enough evidence to issue a Litter Infringement Notice, which carries a fine of up to $400.
Year-round waste services
To find out what waste services are available on Aotea / Great Barrier Island throughout the year, visit makethemostofwaste.co.nz.