A rapidly expanding population and economy are straining existing infrastructure and services in Auckland. In 2011, the city sent ~1.2 million tonnes of material to landfill, with domestic refuse making up around 20% of total waste generated. In 2013, 9.3% of Auckland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from waste, primarily methane from landfills. Waste management and minimisation services are fragmented in Auckland, with few key facilities owned by the council. Consequently, the council handles only ~20% of the waste stream, making it more difficult to exert direct influence. Furthermore, proposed widespread changes pose a challenge to ensure seamless service transitions for diverse communities.
From 2009-2015, regional waste emissions have decreased 0.12% from 807,326 to 806,396 tonnes of CO2e (an 8.4% reduction, from 561kg CO2e to 514kg CO2e per capita).
Auckland is working towards its 30 % reduction target of domestic curbside waste. From 2010-2015, before citywide rollout of the organic and inorganic services, curbside collection had already been reduced from 160 kg per person to 152 kg per person. The council’s in-house waste reduction target of 30% by 2018 was reached early, in 2014. The improvements continue, with a new composting service diverting 17 tonnes of waste within just five months of operation. Specific construction projects, such as the refit of the council’s new headquarters building have achieved an 83% diversion rate of materials – 775 tonnes – from entering the waste stream.
Broader waste minimisation programmes are also seeing great results. Three Community Recycling Centres have been opened, employing 16 full-time equivalent staff, a quarter of which were previously long-term unemployed. The community led Waste Champions Project employs a further 35 people part time. Recovered materials are fed out to the community and business sectors, with over 50 community groups currently registered to collect goods for economic and social benefit.
Auckland’s programmes are building social capital in diverse ethnic and socio-economic communities. Marae in the Para Kore Zero Waste Programme are establishing gardens to feed their families and waste champions are self-reporting improved personal health and wellbeing, including reduced weight, smoking, and depression. Communities are also widening their environmental focus. The Puhinui Stream clean-up, in 2016, saw a record 1,900 people remove nine tonnes of rubbish from 10km of stream. Communities and businesses continue to maintain adopted sections of the stream.
The city’s overarching strategy, The Auckland Plan, sets a GHG emissions reduction target of 40% by 2040 (relative to 1990). The Waste to Resources, and broader waste management programmes, are a key part of achieving this goal. Through the projects, Auckland hopes to avoid 97% of GHG emissions from waste (versus 2007). The city estimates domestic curbside refuse will be reduced from 160kg to 110kg per capita per year in the coming years with a total waste reduction of 30% aimed for by 2027 (0.8 tonnes per capita).
The project will continue to provide employment opportunities. The completed network of 20 Community Recycling Centres is predicted to provide over 85 jobs and further employment opportunities will be created with the rollout of a citywide kitchen waste collection.