Anna Proctor and Matthew Luxon check out the new compost system.
Recycling centres at Lawrie Road in Snells Beach and Rustybrook Road in Wellsford look set to receive about $2.4 million.
Auckland Council will use the money to redevelop the sites with the support of the current operator Mahurangi Wastebusters.
Wastebusters director Matthew Luxon says the money will make a big difference to the two sites.
He says Council is still working through how the money will be used. Mahurangi Wastebusters is eager to see the building of covered sheds to keep staff sorting waste out of the weather.
The funding windfall was announced shortly after Wastebuster’s first anniversary of taking over the former waste transfer stations. It won a two-year contract to run community recycling centres while Council carried out remediation works at the former landfills.
Matthew says everyone involved has faced great challenges and learnt a lot since they took over.
“There have been break-ins almost every week, especially at Lawrie Road,” he says. “We have CCTV now – though the first lot got stolen – and we have secure fencing now, too.”
They also had major digger issues, problems with people bringing in asbestos, a collapse in commodity prices and, of course, the impact of Covid-19, when revenue plummeted during lockdown and everything brought in had to be taken straight to landfill, instead of being sorted.
However, Matthew says there were plenty of highlights, too, and the enterprise managed to break even in its first year and open two shops selling reusable goods.
“In the year from July 2019 to June, Mahurangi Wastebusters diverted 5988 cubic metres of waste from landfill,” he says. “I worked out that the material we have diverted would fill the equivalent of 377 shipping containers.”
Wastebusters is currently looking at ways to take more construction waste, as well as trying to increase its opening hours to make it more convenient for more people.
“It’s a big concern. We’re community-led, so we want to respond. We also want to be good neighbours and we’re running a business where our biggest cost is labour,” Matthew says. “But it’s something we’re actively trying to work out. We hear the community.”
He added that he was particularly keen to talk to local builders who have expressed frustrations over the recycling centres’ opening hours and what it can accept (Mahurangi Matters, Jul 1).
Mahurangi Wastebusters now has 23 recycling streams, the latest being a new composting service at Lawrie Road. Special five tonne pest-proof boxes have been brought in to convert compostable food waste from the Matakana Farmers’ Market, Daily Organics kombucha and the public. Most food scraps are accepted, except meat, fish, bones and cooking oil.
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Mahurangi Wastebusters is a registered charitable company jointly owned by Mahurangi Wastebusters Trust and Localised (a community enterprise start-up consultancy business owned by the Zero Waste Network, which is a national charitable trust representing community enterprises working towards zero waste). According to Mahurangi Wastebusters’ annual report, this arrangement “ensures any profits are used to advance zero waste locally (through Mahurangi Wastebusters Trust) and nationally (through Localised and the Zero Waste Network). “There is no opportunity for individual benefit from dividends or sale of the company, therefore the mission of zero waste remains the priority at all times,” the report says.