But while the rent a plate scheme is working well, Te Ipukarea Society’s technical director, Kelvin Passfield, says much more needs to be done to help minimise landfill waste.
“We need backing from the government, the public needs to do their part and we need the market venders to take into account their social and environmental responsibilities.”
Te Uki Ou School introduced the rent a plate project in March last year. The aim was to raise funds for school projects while also reducing the large amount of plastic and foam waste generated by the fast food outlets. The stall offers market-goers an alternative to the traditional containers, by supplying them with a plate, cutlery, and serviette - all for a donation of any amount.
The venture gained support from TIS, who helped financially with marketing and advertising.
Now TIS would like to see the project extended outside of Muri beach, especially to Punanga Nui Markets.
“Now that Punanga Nui is under new management we would like to see a policy that bans all polystyrene and insists the use of biodegradable plates, reusable plates or that people bring their own containers,” says Passfield.
TIS is now looking at working with another school in the hope of expanding Rent-A-Plate, calling on any schools that may be interested in starting up their own kiosk
“We are certainly happy to support them, just as we have supported the regime in Muri.”.
However, the real solution lies with government placing a ban on the importation of non-biodegradable plates and containers, Passfield says.
“There are a lot of venders who are reluctant to pay that extra bit to help the environment, so the next step is to ban the whole thing (non-biodegradable products) entirely” Passfield said.’
Rent-A-Plate will be open at the Muri Night Markets, weekly on Thursdays and Sundays.