We're investigating the development of a community resource recovery centre for Te Tairāwhiti. We've received $90,000 funding from the Ministry for Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund for the feasibility study.

Resource recovery centres provide a place for the reuse, repurposing, recycling and recovery of resources from waste.

Many of these centres operate across the country. They have multiple benefits including:

  • extending the life of landfills
  • reducing the amount of waste being transported from one region to another
  • education and potential employment opportunities

New Zealand's one of the highest generators of waste per person in the world, here in Tairāwhiti we're also throwing away more and recycling less.

Waste the future? ‘Ka para te whenua, ka hapa te tangata’

A facility where it can either be reused, repurposed, recycled

Through the Waste Management Minimisation Plan (WMMP) we have committed to district-wide targets to reduce waste.

To assist with achieving those targets Council's keen to explore how a resource recovery centre could work in Tairāwhiti and the appetite of the community for such a centre.

Resource recovery centres divert waste from landfill by providing people with the opportunity to put waste into a facility where it can either be reused, repurposed, recycled or the resource it’s made from can be recovered.

This enables a longer lifespan of landfills and prevents waste from being trucked to other regions, which comes at a cost to ratepayers. Many RRCs have additional benefits including education, training, enhancing the sense of community and generating employment.

There lots of fantastic ideas out there and we're investigating the feasibility of a RRC for our rohe. We need to explore what we as a community want, need and would make use of to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill and what will be sustainable for generations to come.

Resource recovery centres protect environmental, cultural and social wellbeing, as well as potentially creating positive economic outcomes. They also contribute to the circular economy.

Q&As about resource recovery centres

New Zealand is one of the highest generators of waste per person in the world - and it is increasing.

We want to provide environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to our people by increasing the amount of waste diverted from landfill via reuse, recycling and/or recovery.

Our most recent Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (2018-2024) noted waste to landfill was increasing and recycling decreasing. Data from 2017 on what went to landfill showed 42% of what we threw away ended up in landfill but could potentially have been diverted.

Of this 42%, over half was compostable materials such as kitchen/food and greenwaste, and just under half was recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, metals, glass and rubble.

The goals for our Waste Management Plan 2018 – 2024 are to improve our waste and recycling performance, doing the best by our community and environment. Investigating the feasibility of a resource recovery network was one of the actions identified in our plan to achieve our goals.

The northern part of our region's unsorted waste goes to the Waiapu landfill near Ruatoria (our only class 1 landfill). The rest and majority of our unsorted waste is transported by road to Tirohia, a class 1 landfill around 300km away near Paeroa in the Bay of Plenty.

On average, every day the trucks that take waste from Gisborne to the landfill in Tirohia travel collectively almost 2 lengths of NZ (length of NZ = 1,600km approx) and 4 trucks doing a return trip each day drive 2,400km approx, and some days would travel more.

Class 1 landfills take mixed municipal/household waste, including putrescible waste (organic material that will decompose). These landfills are engineered to minimise the impact of waste on the environment.

Class 2 landfills accept non putrescible waste, including construction and demolition waste, cleanfill and managed fill material. They have much lower compliance and construction costs.

They each look different to suit the needs and aspirations of their communities.

Generally, they have areas to drop off items and materials that can be reused, repurposed, recycled or recovered. Many have a retail space to display and sell these items that are no longer wanted … “one man’s rubbish is another’s treasure”.

Several provide spaces for education and training (e.g. for schools and the wider community curriculum-based lessons, tours, workshops – such as repairs, repurposing, upcycling, maintenance etc). Creation of opportunities for people to gain valuable skills may lead to personal development and further training, volunteer or paid employment - including for those experiencing barriers to work.

See examples of resource recovery centres :

Reconnect project, Selwyn district council

Whanganui resource recovery centre

Raglan xtreme zero waste

Te Maunga resource recovery park

Northland waste

Resource recovery Australia

This looks different for each centre, depending on the individual community it serves. Some are completely council-run, others in partnerships that may include a combination of council, community and charitable organisations, iwi and business.

Reuse - Further use of products/materials in their existing form for their original or similar purpose

Recycling - Reprocessing waste materials and using them as raw materials to create new products, reducing the amount of new materials needed to make the new products (e.g. processing used glass bottles to make new glass products)

Recovery - Extraction of raw materials or energy from waste for further use or processing (eg making materials into compost)

The ‘throw away’ or ‘take, make and dispose’ linear economy of the modern world has negative impacts on the environment and doesn’t use valuable resources well or sustainably, increasing pressure on diminishing, finite resources. However a circular economy has multiple benefits

Circular economy principles:

  1. Design out waste and pollution (minimise loss of materials and energy through the production process).
  2. Keep products and materials in use (waste materials from one process becomes input for another – products designed for reuse, repair and recycle).
  3. Regenerate natural systems (perspective shift from minimising negative environmental impact to doing good).