Litter bins on Aotea and reaching zero waste
Enacting the Litter Act on Aotea / Great Barrier Island
In July 2019, Auckland Council rolled out a range of new waste services on Aotea / Great Barrier Island as the first step towards achieving the target set out in the Tikapa Moana Hauraki Gulf Islands Waste Plan of zero waste to landfill by 2040.
Auckland Council’s General Manager Waste Solutions, Parul Sood, says that strong action was necessary, given that Claris Landfill is rapidly nearing capacity. Over the holiday period, summer waste and resource recovery services have also been re-designed so that boaties, other marine users, and visitors to the island share in the disposal costs of the waste they create, rather than this being borne by Auckland ratepayers or local residents as it has in the past. As well as reducing waste to landfill, the intention is to significantly reduce the waste that is polluting the Hauraki Gulf and specifically, the waters around Aotea / Great Barrier Island.
With the removal of waste and recycling drop-off points around the island, there was concern from locals that this would lead to an increase in littering and illegal dumping over the summer holiday period. As a result, some community members called for the reinstatement of the drop-off points and the installation of litter bins around the island as a preventative measure. The community also asked for the council to clarify how the new waste services meet the requirements of councils as set out in the Litter Act.
'Pack in, pack out' - plan to leave nothing behind
“To encourage visitors and boaties to take their waste away with them and leave nothing behind, the Council has adopted, and is widely promoting, a ‘pack in, pack out’ policy for Aotea / Great Barrier," says Parul Sood.
"This ‘pack in, pack out’ approach is widely in place across the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, with minimal litter bins in place, if any. This policy is not at odds with the Litter Act and is a commonly adopted practice for other territorial authorities as well as the Department of Conservation (DoC).”
Public place litter bins are designed for small pieces of litter from passers-by and don’t have the capacity to deal with large quantities of waste. Under Section 9.1 of the Litter Act 1979, Auckland Council is required to provide and empty litter bins in public places as may be reasonably necessary to keep the area free from litter. There is a public litter bin at Claris Airport as it is deemed reasonably necessary to place a bin in this location in order to manage small pieces of litter from members of the public as they arrive and depart the island by air.
The new summer waste services place responsibility on those that create or bring the waste to the island, namely visitors, boaties, residents, or store owners, to dispose of it responsibly. Under Section 9.2 of the Litter Act, where litter is expected to come from a certain place (for example, land or premises such as a shop or food outlet), the council can require the occupier to deal with the waste generated. Section 9.3 goes on to outline that, if needed, the occupier may be required to install/provide and empty litter bins to ensure that the area is kept free from litter. If the occupier does not comply with the request to install and empty bins under Section 9.4 of the Litter Act, the council can install bins and recover the debt from the occupier for the installation and management of these.
The Litter Act goes on to state in Section 9.5 that where the council has provided litter bins as per Section 9.1, the council will organise for emptying and waste disposal. Where the council has provided litter bins as per Section 9.4, the council will organise for emptying and waste disposal with the cost being recovered from the occupier of the respective land to whom the request for bins was made.
Where a waste charge is paid against a property’s rates, a roadside collection is provided for disposal of household rubbish and recycling. Council also provides litter enforcement services on the island. Where it identifies people littering or illegally dumping waste in public places, infringement fines will be issued.
Boaties embrace new summer waste drop-off at Port Fitzroy
Parul Sood notes that the new summer pop-up waste drop-off service has been well-received by visitors and boaties, averaging between 10 and 30 customers visiting the drop-off point at Port Fitzroy each day.
“Feedback from the boating community has been positive. Leisure boat users have just been glad to see a service is available and have been accepting of the introduction of user-pays’ charges.”
As at 17 January, over 4381 kilograms of waste and recycling had been dropped at Port Fitzroy with recyclables making up just over half at around 2300 kilograms. Around 150 kilograms of waste and recycling had been left at the closed Port Fitzroy drop-off station outside of the pop-up service operating hours – about 3.4 per cent of the total dropped off at the pop-up station.
Three official reports of illegal dumping were received by Auckland Council between 20 December and 15 January including two bags at Tryphena wharf, 16 bags at Whangaparapara wharf, and one large illegal dumping incident of around 350 kilograms at Port Fitzroy wharf. The consolidation point in front of the Medlands campground was getting overloaded by campers but council contractors are working with DoC staff to manage and monitor the situation at the DoC campground.
The new summer waste services are being closely monitored and will be reviewed to identify any gaps. Council will work together with the local board and community to implement solutions.