A new recycling initiative by local businesses at Tutukaka Marina is helping to create a cleaner, more enjoyable living environment for Northlanders and visitors to the region. The pilot project was spearheaded by Northland’s largest recycler Northland Waste, in conjunction with local businesses Schnapper Rock, Wahi Restaurant at Oceans Hotel and the Tutukaka Marina Management Trust who recognised the need to work together for an easy to use, tidier rubbish recycling system at the marina.
Northland Waste spokesman Tony Lenz says the company is continually looking at ways to improve its services for the benefit of Northland. ‘Being 100% locally owned we are all about putting Northland first and when this opportunity was presented, we were eager to assist to continue to grow recycling in the region.’
He says the hardest part is getting people to sort their recycling from rubbish. ‘The Chinese Government (which receives most of the recycling products from NZ) has made new restrictions on recycled products and we now have stricter requirements to send clean, sorted glass by colour and plastics graded from 1-5, tin & aluminium, so it is imperative that we present sorted, clean and noncontaminated products at the recycling stations.’
‘There is a huge lack of effort by many people when it comes to recycling and unfortunately this then contaminates others great efforts. A concerted effort is needed by everyone as many people don’t bother to find out what is and what isn’t recyclable and we really need to be diverting rubbish and recycling products from landfill to recycling.’
Marina Manager Dylan Lees says it’s about keeping Northland, especially Tutukaka, clean and green. ‘We recognised that recycling is an integral part of life at the marina for locals and boaties. We wanted a more user friendly system to manage rubbish that made it easier for everyone to sort and recycle. The main focus initially was to support boaties with their rubbish disposal as any facility near the water needs to be carefully monitored to keep rubbish out of the ocean.’
‘One of the main issues we have had previously is cross contamination of reycling bins. A lot of people don’t realise that recycling takes effort and we’ve found that they are more inclined to use a system if it looks clean and tidy. Clear and easy to read signage was paramount so that recycling items are not mixed up with general household waste.’
Three recycle hubs located around the marina feature bold stickers and coloured bins which help make things easier to sort. New specialty bins for glass were also designed for the Marina project.
Dylan says the response from boaties, locals and visitors from around the country and overseas has been very positive. ‘The feedback has been fantastic. People say the area looks better and the bins are appealing and easy to use.’ Nick Keene owner of Schnapper Rock and Wahi Restaurant says the initiative is a practical solution for waste disposal at Tutukaka Marina and a great pilot scheme for future projects on a bigger scale.
‘It was obvious that business owners and individuals needed to be proactive around recycling and rubbish removal. We agreed that a constructive solution was to create a recycling hub for the area – less waste, shared cost and a combined benefit for businesses, marina users and the community. Our obsession with packaging is not sustainable long term so projects like this which are driven by the rubbish and recycling industry, is a good place to start.’
He agrees there is a bit more involved in terms of time and labour with sorting general waste from recycling. ‘Recycling and waste reduction is part of an environmental policy for any business. There are costs involved in recycling and while it takes a bit longer to sort into glass colours, plastics, cardboard, paper and general rubbish - if the results are invisible, then that’s a win.’
‘As with most things, the more we do the more we find we could do. There is a strong push in the hospitality industry to reduce waste by improving systems and adjusting ‘norms’. There is a perception that we are trying to do good things. Our customers are aware of our overall push towards less environmental impact.’
‘We’ve combined ‘reduce use’ policies such as growing our own produce, using paper straws, and limiting single use takeaway cups by encouraging customers to bring their own ‘Forever’ refill cup for their tea or coffee. These are small things – but hopefully they will have a big impact.