The number of people sorting their rubbish correctly is very low, with well over half of the homes from which rubbish bags were collected not bothering to sort it at all. And many residents are still putting food scraps in their rubbish.
“At the surface it seems most homes are sorting but then when we actually collected and looked at the rubbish, it wasn’t so. We even found a dead cat in one bag,” said WATSAN director Jaime Short.
“The reason that sorting is so important is because the landfill is full and the current site is probably the last one that the government can procure for waste treatment and disposal.
“With the installation of a baler, general waste is compacted into cubes and placed on top of the landfill.
“It is the responsibility of everyone in the community to sort their rubbish properly so we can prolong the space left at the landfill. We can rework the rubbish that is in and on top of the landfill to create more space.
“At the rate we are sorting, there is a lot of recyclables going to landfill, at one stage we found that up to 67 per cent of waste could have been diverted from the landfill to recycling and composting,” adds Short.
The importance of keeping food scraps out of the general waste stream is to reduce the production of methane at the landfill, reduce leachate (liquid from decomposing waste) run off and to improve the working conditions for collection staff and Waste Facility staff.
“Collecting and dealing with rubbish that contains rotting food and maggots is not pleasant at all, and all it takes is to rinse food packaging and give food scraps to pets, pigs, yard chickens, compost or bury at home” she explained.
Secretary of ICI Ngametua Pokino said that we need to protect the health of our Waste Facility staff and our collection contractor staff from the health risks of putrefying rubbish.
“It is simple practice to keep food scraps out of the general rubbish” said Pokino.
“Of course there are cases where the only option is to put food scraps in the bin but in most cases, homes have sufficient options to dispose of food that don’t include the bin.”
ICI staff Hewett Paerau and Timothy Tangirere were the lead staff on the audit organizing the additional personnel sought by the Ministry and managing the process each day.
“The two young staff worked on the audit last year so they were put in charge for this year’s audit and really stepped up and kept everything running smoothly. Full credit to them for this work” says Short.
ICI would like to thank CITC for the companies support for this audit.
“If it wasn’t for CITC we’d have to use our operational budget from the Waste Facility funds to cover all of the expenses however CITC who have a representative on the National Solid Waste Management Committee stepped in to assist and we are very grateful.
“This is a great example of private and public sector working together for the common good” says Pokino.
“CITC do much in the field of waste management and supporting the four R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle concept.
“Initiatives include shipping back cardboard and plastic packaging to recyclers, they have a bulb crusher for bulbs that contain mercury and phosphorous of which is sent to InterWaste in New Zealand, and through their charge on plastic bags have funded sorting stations to schools and public spaces” adds Short.
ICI would like to request all members of the community to sort household rubbish into glass, plastics with triangles, aluminium and clean tin food cans and lastly general waste for landfill, and keep the food out as much as possible.
“Such small changes in behaviour makes our work at the Waste Facility much more pleasant and much easier which in turn benefits our economy” Pokino said.