Keep it clean at Papahua

Enjoying the beach this summer shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment.

That’s the message Xtreme Zero Waste is promoting to the local community after a spike in litter at Papahua Domain has left bins overflowing.

“Anyone, at any time can practice kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) and pick up litter or take their rubbish home,” XZW community educator Sarah Lancaster says.

Xtreme direct line manager – collections Nenya Chapman says Waikato District Council contract Xtreme to service the bins, and litter sweep the parks and reserves around Whaingaroa, and additional staff and runs are scheduled over the busy summer months, between December and March. 

“The street bin collection team have been working up to 12 hours per day, 7 days a week, servicing the 120 waste and recycling bins around Whaingaroa township and litter sweeping the parks and reserves during this busy time. There is also a third sweep of Papahua at the end of each day.  Waikato District Council have approved additional runs in response to the spike in refuse, and as of January 19 through to end of Waitangi weekend, XZW have scheduled three runs per day, during this period,” Nenya says. 

And, Nenya says, XZW is always reassessing how they operate during this busy period, including working closely with the council to replace the traditional open bins with seagull-proof bins and provide additional bin runs during peak times.

“The bins were designed by the team at Xtreme to mitigate seagull strike and there are already several bins around town, and there is a schedule in place with council to replace the old bins with the new XZW bins over time.”  

Born and bred Raglan local Wayne Trott and others have taken on the job of picking up litter and bagging overflowing bins around the playground.

“We do a round between 7.30-9pm and many people are just packing up to go home. We’ve noticed when people see us, they start clearing up their rubbish,” he says.

A keen waka ama paddler, Wayne is passionate about keeping the rubbish out of the sea.

“I’m tired of the rubbish floating around in our environment and getting into the water. People ask me – doesn’t it make you angry picking up all that rubbish, and I tell them – I feel so happy inside when I’ve finished the job.”

Wayne says he has also been communicating with the council for many years about the litter problem and says the overflowing rubbish bins don’t help the council promoting Whaingaroa as a ‘jewel in the Waikato crown’.

But he isn’t one to moan and not do something practical.

As well as picking up litter he has also designed rubber strips for the bins to stop bird strike and, with council’s permission, has started trialling the device. 

“I’ve talked to the council before (about issues with bird strike), so I’m doing it myself. I saw it (the rubber strip) when I was on holiday in Australia and I thought what a great idea, the birds can’t pull the rubbish out.”

Nenya says the Xtreme team is grateful for the support of the local community and believes everybody is doing their bit for the good of the environment.

“We would like to give a big shout out to those residents who have been litter sweeping Papahua in the evening – thanks so much for your help. We know there are many groups and individuals who, when they see rubbish, they pick it up.”

Sarah, who also heads Plastic Free Raglan, says many local businesses are also working towards reducing excess packaging where they can.

“Our goal is for us all to play some role in reducing waste; that could be a business reassessing their products or individuals making plastic-free choices for their family picnics at the beach by taking a picnic hamper of reusables.”  

The Government’s waste strategy plan is due to be released in mid-2022 and if the new waste legislation is accepted, a bill will be introduced to parliament later in the year.

The plan, which works towards a circular economy and is something XZW has been promoting from its beginnings in 2000 – includes product stewardship, diverting organic waste from landfills, fixing the damage from past disposal practices and stimulating innovation and redesign to reduce waste being generated.

Some of these ideas may seem like a huge leap, but as Sarah points out, it incorporates some of waste solutions already in practice in Raglan.

“Our food waste collections have diverted 677 tonnes in the past four years, that’s something Raglan should be really proud of.”

By Janine Jackson