In 2010 humans produced 3.5 million tons of solid waste per day, at an annual costs of $205 billion. Predictions are that this will rise to 6 million tones daily by 2025 and continue to accelerate. Much of our waste is plastics - in just one year an estimated 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide and 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans. Not only is this a massive waste of resources, there are number of concerns with the waste we create, including contamination of ground water, the oceans, and air pollution and toxic ash created by the 2,000 municipal waste incinerators in use globally. In addition, waste contributes to climate change as organic matter breaks down in landfills and releases greenhouse gases. The shear volume of waste generated is a reflection of the global appetite for consumer goods, our throwaway culture, products deliberately designed for obsolescence and excessive packaging. OECD countries lead the way in waste creation, with our higher consumption levels, while areas of the world such as South Asia produce less than a quarter of OECD amounts.
New Zealander's sent 2.5 million tons of waste to landfills in 2011. This includes all residential and commercial waste, and equates to over half a ton per person. An estimated 75% of these materials could have been recovered, reused or recycled. Here in Taranaki solid waste is a topical issue, with New Plymouth landfill nearly full and the prospect of shipping waste up to an hour to a new regional landfill near Eltham. In the New Plymouth district, the introduction of a new kerb side recycling system in 2016 greatly increased recycling, with 5150 tons of material recycled in the 2016/2017 year. Yet we have a long way to go, with 62% of kerb side rubbish bags being food, green waste and recyclable materials!
Go beyond the 3 Rs and try the 6 Rs - Refuse what you don’t need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse anything that you can, Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse, Rehome what you no longer need or want, Rot - compost the rest
Start by taking a good look at what you purchase. Preventing waste creation is the best approach, and the majority of non-recyclable residential waste is food packaging. How can you reduce your waste by changing your shopping habits? Buy all you can in bulk in re-fillable containers. Places like Bin Inn and your local butcher, greengrocer and wholefoods store are a great place to do your grocery shopping.
Jump on your Council website and make sure you are up to speed on all the items that can be recycled in your area, including eWaste from old cell phone and laptops: Stratford District Council, New Plymouth District Council For NPDC residents you can download the rubbish and recycling app to help guide your recycling
Check out the Rubbish Free July's information on how to live plastic free
Learn how to compost your foods scraps at a Sustainable Taranaki Workshop or get some chooks and turn your waste into eggs! Don't have space? Try the Bokashi system where you can dig your food scraps straight into the garden.
Encourage your employer to start recycling at work or to join the Waste Exchange, an online tool that help businesses and organisations find uses for by-products, surplus materials and other resources.
Give away items you no longer need or want to charity stores and the soon to be built Community Reuse and Recycling Centre
Check out the work of Upcycle Taranaki, who organise local events that focus on upcycling.
Want to go further?
Be inspired by Kiwis that live a rubbish free lifestyle and gain knowledge on how they do it.
Learn more about food waste and what you can do to reduce this on our Sustainable Food page.
Read about the work of the WasteMINZ, the primary organisation addressing waste, resource recovery and contaminated land issues in New Zealand
Check out some inspiring waste minimisation projects from around the world.