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Experts converge on Kaikoura to discuss zero waste

World experts converge on Kaikoura to discuss zero waste

World experts will converge on Kaikoura next week for the international zero waste conference to discuss how to rid the planet of growing waste mountains.

Top overseas and New Zealand experts at the April 5-8 conference will be seeking solutions to ending the days of rubbish. Every New Zealander dumps about one tonne of rubbish every year.

More than 130 delegates from Australia, South Africa, Wales, Botswana, England, Scotland, Canada, the US and New Zealand will hear the latest developments in zero waste and progress being made across New Zealand and overseas.

A growing number of towns and cities around the world are adopting zero waste as an official strategy.

Places as diverse as the small fishing village of Kovalam in South India, and Bath and North East Somerset Council in the UK, have adopted the zero waste vision.

Canberra was the first city in the world to set a zero waste target. Many communities in the Philippines have official zero waste goals. All these communities are turning from the idea of managing waste and are aiming instead to eliminate it.

Opotiki District Council was the first New Zealand council to take up the zero waste challenge and, in September 1998, it set a target of zero waste by 2010. The real concept of zero waste needs to be better understood, a world environmental leader and South African Muna Lakhani will tell the conference.

Lakhani is head of the Zero Waste Institute of South Africa and is coordinator of the Zero Waste Earth Summit team for Earthlife Africa. He feels there is a worldwide lack of understanding of zero waste. A problem of escalating waste on Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park will also be a major topic for discussion. Waste on the mountains has become a major issue as more climbers take to the sport. Meanwhile, Zero Waste New Zealand chief executive Jo Knight says New Zealand has failed to deliver on reducing waste goals. ``Our aim at the Kaikoura conference is to encourage a declaration encouraging the South Island to band together to be the first zero waste island in the world,’’ she said. The conference will also host the first national zero waste awards.

One speaker, Rex Verity, will talk about Christchurch Polytech’s road to zero waste. The polytechnic has over 45,000 students each year and 2000 full and part-time staff. They are one of the largest providers of tertiary education in New Zealand.

``Our Madras St campus generated 1.24 tonne of “waste” destined for landfill on one average day in June last year. About 82 percent of this was food waste or readily recyclable material,’’ Verity said.

Copyright 2005 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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