Community & Environment

Hamiltonians urged to get back into the food bin habit

By using the kerbside food waste bin, Hamiltonians saved 50 extra tonnes of food waste (or 5 million apples) from landfill in September 2021 compared to October the same year.

While this may not seem a huge variation between months, Hamilton City Council’s Rubbish and Recycling Transitional Manager Trent Fowles said any food waste to landfill comes at a cost to the environment.

“New Zealand sends 1.8billion tonnes of food waste to landfill every year – where it creates methane, a toxic greenhouse gas,” he said. “We love our environment and we are all committed to protecting it for future generations. That’s what this new award winning service aims to do.”

Since August 2021, only 47% of Hamiltonians have been putting their food waste bins out for collection. Fowles said this could be the result of the COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions in place at the time and people not being aware food waste collections were continuing during that time.

“In Hamilton there’s no reason for us to send food waste to landfill. The only time we can’t collect it is during a Level 4 lockdown, which we haven’t been in since August last year.”

Last year’s national lockdown was halfway through August, when Hamiltonians diverted just 255 tonnes of food through the kerbside food scraps bin. This was due to food waste not being able to be collected in the last 13 days of the month as the service wasn’t available during lockdown.

This is the lowest collection rate since the new service launched. Throughout 2021, Hamiltonians diverted and average of 500 tonnes of food waste per month.

End of year parties, Christmas and New Year dinners, plus additional packaging and wrapping contribute to December being a month with high levels of waste sent to landfill.

In December 2020, Hamiltonians sent 1109 tonnes of waste to landfill (the weight of 150 elephants). This dropped slightly to 1097 tonnes in January 2021 but had increased in November 2021 to 1269 tonnes.

“That’s a lot of waste. We know we can do better and the food waste bins provide an easy solution for most households to cut back on what is sent to landfill. This is a way we can all work together for a cleaner environment.”

Fowles said he knows there are challenges to using the food waste bin during summer, such as preventing smells and deterring flies and maggots.

“You can prevent these issues by using the bins for organics only and storing your perishables, such as meat, eggs and dairy products wrapped in newspaper in the freezer until collection day.

“Also look for cool, shady places to keep the bin, ensure the lid is always closed and locked with the handle in the upright position and thoroughly wash it at least once a month.”

You can get more information on the kerbside service, including an online recycling sorting tool at fightthelandfill.co.nz

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