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Councillors challenged to go plastic-free

Some kind of national standards to reduce the waste stream are needed in a world starting to drown in rubbish, Gisborne District Council was told.

In response, acting mayor Rehette Stoltz challenged all councillors and staff to take part in Plastic Free July.

The council was discussing a waste management manifesto to be presented as a remit at the Local Government Commission conference next month.

It agreed unanimously to support the remit at the conference.

Acting mayor Rehette Stoltz, who chaired the meeting, called on the council and staff to show leadership.

There was a lot of positive support for the manifesto, she said.

“We are the leaders in this region and we should set the direction, so I am putting up a challenge to all councillors to join me for Plastic Free July.

There were four easy things, the “low-hanging fruit”, that people could do — not use plastic or disposable bottles, plastic straws and takeaway cups, and take your own shopping bag to the supermarket.

“Let’s lead by example. It is a tiny change but all the tiny changes together would make a big difference.”

The challenge was extended to council employees.

Graeme Thomson said he still supported trying to get some sort of national position on waste rather than a whole lot of small bodies running their own landfills.

Waste management had become a much bigger issue in the last few months, with China pulling out of buying plastics.

“We are going to end up with a real problem if we don’t do something,” he said.

He favoured addressing it on a national level, with big regional landfills that could be managed on a national standard with smaller regions incentivised to use them.

Brian Wilson supported the thrust of the manifesto paper.

“The world is starting to drown in rubbish; it is just increasing,” he said.

Putting a charge at the front end on products that had to be dumped to make an incentive to actually reuse or at least dispose of them in a responsible way was the way to go.

“For too long this country has just been filling up holes in the ground,” he said.

Those had been lined, which was said to be environmentally responsible.

There were so many opportunities out there. When you went to the supermarket, or bought a product that was shrink-wrapped in plastic, it was totally unnecessary. It could have a piece of cardboard on it that was totally recyclable.

The big issue was the waste disposal levy, which was a huge increase, he said.

Andy Cranston said the two-bin system in the CBD meant contractors were having to spend a considerable amount of money sorting out what should go into the recycling bin.

It was disappointing that the two-bin system, which was introduced to increase efficiency, had actually added inefficiency to the system because people did not use it.

When people went to Bunnings or another big place and bought something that was wrapped in plastic, why not open it and leave the plastic there for them to deal with?

Larry Foster said he had a great love of the ocean and was disappointed to see the plastic remnants that washed up every day on the beach.

He wanted brought back the scheme in which people were paid to return bottles. He remembered running around as a kid, getting money for returning bottles.

Picking up used plastic could be a great income for a lot of people, he said.

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