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Wellington City Council is to conduct a wide-ranging review of its recycling strategy. A draft paper of suggested improvements will go before the Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee in December, before going out to the public for consultation early in 2009.
The Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says recycling is an issue close to the heart of many Wellingtonians, and all residents will get the chance to have their say on any proposed changes.
"Recycling is one of the many important activities which the Council undertakes and it's important we get it right. Recycling gives our valuable resources another life which helps protect the environment. We want to make sure that the city's recycling budget provides for the most efficient and effective service possible - and that's why we're conducting this review.
"The review will go back to basics by looking at why we recycle and the ways in which we recycle. We want to see what the impact of recycling is in terms of increasing or reducing pollution. We'll also be looking at how the new Waste Minimisation Act fits into the big picture now that manufacturers will be increasingly responsible for the environmental effects of disposing of products at the end of their life-cycle.
"One action which we can all take to help is to simply buy items with less packaging. Bottled water is one product that comes to mind as unnecessary, especially when we can often just refill an existing bottle with the top-quality tap water we get here in Wellington. It's essential for all of us to consider the principle of 'reduce and reuse' if we are to lessen the volume of material which needs to be recycled.
"In terms of the Council's recycling activities there is clearly room for improvement in a number of areas. For example we will look at whether our green recycling bins are as effective as they could be. For many households the bins are simply too small for the volume of material being recycled. They also have a tendency to blow over on windy days and spill their contents onto the street.
"There is also a debate to be had about the way we recycle glass. Currently our recycled glass gets transported to China and South East Asia. It's expensive and its collection, transport and re-processing may create more greenhouse gases than it saves - so we need to consider whether this is the best way to deal with glass or if there are other options closer to home.
"Recycling is an issue which affects all of us, and every Wellingtonian will be able to have their say before we make any changes. The Council will consider all views before deciding on the best way forward."
The Council will also be consulting on a draft Waste Management Bylaw. This bylaw – which is separate to the recycling review - deals with the administrative aspects of waste, such as empowering enforcement officers to inspect vehicles, waste and waste containers, setting out the times when waste and recycling can be left out, and ensuring litter bins are used for street litter instead of household or business waste. The draft bylaw sets out a framework for waste and recycling. It does not deal with the wider recycling issues that the later consultation will consider. Consultation on the draft Waste Management Bylaw starts on 13 October.