Hopes to establish a community recycling centre at the Lawrie Road waste transfer station in Snells Beach have taken a step forward, following a successful public meeting to gauge support for the idea.
Around 50 people were at the Warkworth Town Hall last month to show their interest and discuss what they would like to see at a recycling centre, with popular themes including a repair shed and a composting station.
Permaculture tutor and zero waste advocate Trish Allen is spearheading the proposal, and she was delighted by the turnout.
“I’m so excited about this idea after the meeting,” she said. “With that response, it should be unstoppable.”
The Lawrie Road site is owned by Auckland Council and has been operated by Northland Waste for 20 years, with the lease up for renewal in October 2018. This, combined with Auckland Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan target of being Zero Waste by 2040, inspired Trish to start planning for a full recycling centre on the site.
This month Council will give people the opportunity to submit expressions of interest and their ideas for the site, before the best are selected and possibly put into a formal proposal for assessment.
Trish is planning to submit her expression of interest under the banner of the Matakana Community Group, with plans to establish a charitable trust called Mahurangi Waste Busters in two or three months’ time. And she wants to keep people interested in the idea in the meantime.
“I want to run a few one-day repair shops and some other recycling initiatives over the next year to keep people interested while we wait for the lease renewal,” she says.
Also present at the public meeting was Helensville Community Recycling Centre site manager Treena Gowthorpe, who shared her experiences of setting up and running a recycling centre.
The Helensville facility was established as a transfer station in 1993, before becoming a full recycling centre in August last year, with funding coming from a decreasing council subsidy and revenue made on site.
The centre has a 70 per cent diversion rate, which is measured by weight and represents the amount of rubbish that is diverted from landfill.
“Some people say you will never be zero waste, but if you’re at 70 per cent diversion, 100 per cent doesn’t seem that far away,” Treena said.
Audience members questioned Treena about how different waste was dealt with and what problems might be encountered when establishing a recycling centre.
She said that community involvement was essential for any centre to be sustainable, since Council subsidies only covered the set-up phase of such centres.
After the meeting, Northland Waste managing director Ray Lambert said he would be happy to work with local groups on recycling, providing that transparency was maintained around any possible costs to ratepayers and figures about how much waste was actually being diverted.
Currently, 12,000 tonnes of commercial rubbish are put through Lawrie Road each year, with around 30 per cent of that recycled. However, Northland Waste also collects around 4000 tonnes per year of rubbish that gets recycled, but doesn’t pass through the transfer station.
He also warned that about $2 million extra would need to be spent on foundation work to build a full recycling centre at Lawrie Road, because the site was previously a landfill.
He said he has approached Auckland Council in the past about developing a recycling facility on the site, but received no support.
Ray said he wasn’t sure what Northland Waste’s future was on the Lawrie Road site, but said the company owned a piece of land around 10 hectares off Sandspit Road, near the lime quarry, that they were looking at developing.
He did not wish to work with Council or groups from outside of the area on any recycling projects, however, as he was sceptical about the sustainability of other centres set up by commercial operators or Council.
Trish Allen said she would be happy to work with Northland Waste on the project, and Ray said he was hoping for community involvement if Northland developed its site off Sandspit Road.
Trish is also hoping that someone will take up a similar initiative with the transfer station on Rustybrook Road in Wellsford, which is also operated by Northland Waste and up for lease renewal next year.