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Collecting food waste makes economic sense

Media release

Embargo: 0800 Tuesday 9 November
Monday 8 November 2010

Collecting food waste makes economic sense

New compelling research shows that if New Zealanders reduce the amount of general waste going to landfill by separating out food waste, this can result in an average of $20 million per annum in social, economic and environmental benefits across New Zealand.

The report was commissioned by Greenfingers/Earthcare Environmental and Envirofert and released in Wellington today with the Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith. The ‘Household Organic Waste Cost Benefit Analysis’ research was authored by Dr Dominic Hogg – from from the UK branch of Eunomia.

Organic waste has long been recognised as the major component of residual household collected waste and New Zealand is behind in organising separation of this from general waste.

Both Earthcare Environmental and Envirofert are working towards reducing the general waste collection in New Zealand and to capture the by-products from green waste and food waste.

Managing Director of Greenfingers Garden Bags/Earthcare Environmental Mike Jones says currently each New Zealander sends an average of 250kg of waste going to landfill.

“To collect food waste separately from green waste also results in less bulk being collected and also means a less complicated and cheaper processing system at the compost making end,” Mike Jones said.

“We understand that setting up these systems means a change in behaviour and a commitment from Councils, but these economic and environmental findings mean this issue needs to move out of the ‘too hard’ basket and into the mainstream,” he said.
The report recommends that the Government look to reduce the amount of waste per household by 100kg per year by 2025.

It also recommends that Territorial Local Authorities are encouraged to set best practice standards and firmer waste reduction standards. This would ultimately led to better separation of food waste from general waste and ultimately less general waste collected all together.

Capturing methane by recycling food waste anaerobically means this can be transformed into biofuels and also helps to reduce methane emissions that add to global warming.
Managing Director of composting company Envirofert Robert Lind says the effect of taking food waste out of the curb side refuse collection means charges to councils for waste going to landfill can be contained and reduced.

“New Zealand can make more bio fuels, generate electricity, and make high quality compost and fertilizer, not only is it a waste to throw the food scraps in with general waste, it makes sense to use them intelligently,” Robert Lind says.

Dr Dominic Hogg is presenting the report in Wellington, Auckland, Napier and Hamilton this week.


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