Waste capital

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We spit out more rubbish than anywhere else in NZ.

Queenstown is the waste capital of New Zealand, a new report reveals.

The resort’s clean and green image is shattered by figures contained in papers sighted by Mountain Scene.

The study – presented to Queens­town Lakes District Council’s utilities committee by Auckland-based specialists Waste Not Consulting – throws up some disturbing facts on the amount of rubbish produced in the region by individuals and businesses.

It claims resort residents, per capita, each generate an average of 1.23 tonnes of garbage a year.

That’s almost twice the per capita amount in cities such as Wellington and Invercargill – and about 80 per cent more than busy North Island holiday centre Rotorua.

Waste Not compared Queens­town’s garbage output with 16 other centres throughout NZ.

The report also says the three hospitality sectors – food establishments, visitor accommodation and other tourist facilities – on average churn out a whopping 212 tonnes of food waste between them per month.

Yet the study estimates the cost of introducing a daily commercial food waste collection service could be as little as $608 a year per business.

It also reveals construction and demolition waste in Queenstown accounts for a staggering 48 per cent of garbage taken to the Frankton transfer station – including the lion’s share of some 62.5 tonnes of rubble and timber dumped there every week.

Wakatipu Environmental Society spokesperson Karen Swaine is appalled but “not surprised” at the findings.
“The statistics only back up what we’ve been saying for years,” she says.

“Common sense tells anyone that because of the number of tourists, an incredible amount of waste is produced in Queenstown.

“The big question is what are we going to do about finally introducing a proper waste minimisation strategy? This sort of stuff should have been dealt with a long time ago.

“Unfortunately, we have a district council that has a history of procrastination when it comes to dealing with the issue.

“They have not made this a priority despite knowing it was a rising problem.”

Swain warns: “A lot of people who come here now from overseas are eco-tourists and extremely clued-up. Our problems are eventually going to become glaring issues to them.”

However, mayor Clive Geddes says the local community will be invited to discuss the Waste Not study’s findings in detail within the next few months.

“It has confirmed previous waste stream analysis that was first done in 2005,” Geddes says. “We are comfortable that there are no significant trend lines developing in terms of what is in our waste stream.

“But out of that work has come a series of options that we are putting in the council community plan for community comment in March.”

Geddes adds: “They relate to green waste which is generally from gardens, with household and commercial kitchen waste and with residual waste.”