Waipā households each throw out almost 10kg of rubbish every week. So what exactly are we tossing in our rubbish bins?
We opened up rubbish bags and bins from 253 random households in Waipā to see what residents are throwing out – this is called a solid waste audit.
Take a look and see what we found.
What did we find?
The waste audit found more than half of the items thrown into household wheelie bins and rubbish bags could have been diverted from landfill.
Food makes up the largest portion of our waste (36.6 per cent), with each household throwing away 3.6kg of food every week.
Waipā households are throwing 1.4kg of plastic into their rubbish bins each week, or 14.6 per cent of all rubbish thrown out.
We're chucking 1.3kg of garden waste and organic material in the bin, including items like lawn and shrub clippings, kitty litter and hair. This makes up around 13.6 per cent of all waste. Most of this stuff could be composted at home.
On average, each household is throwing away 1.2kg of nappies and sanitary items, which makes up 12.3 per cent of residents’ rubbish.
Paper is also a common item thrown in the rubbish bin, with households throwing away 0.9kg paper every week or 9.1 per cent of all waste.
And the rest? Each week, residents are throwing away 1.3kg of mixed items like metals, textiles, rubble, glass and hazardous products.
The solid waste audit, undertaken in October 2020, was an in-depth look at what residents are throwing out including which items could have been recycled, reused, saved or eaten.
The week-long audit saw Council contractors collect rubbish set out for kerbside collection and landfill disposal from 253 random households from 44 streets in Waipā.
Once collected, staff hand-sorted rubbish piece-by-piece before weighing and separating the contents into categories.
Waste audit FAQs
Why are solid waste audits necessary?
The purpose of waste audits are to provide councils with an overview of the makeup of domestic rubbish in Waipā which will be used to inform future education programmes and track progress to reduce waste to landfill.
Is Waipā the only council to carry out waste audits?
No – all councils are required to complete solid waste audits to inform their waste assessment. Waste assessments are required to receive funding from the Ministry for the Environment for waste minimisation work.
When did the Waipā waste audit take place?
From Monday 28 September to Friday 2 October 2020.
Why didn’t Council let people know about the waste audit?
Letting people know about a waste audit might change their normal household behaviour, meaning the results might not be accurate.
Where did the collected rubbish go once it was weighed in the audit?
As part of the audit, waste and recycling was taken from random households across the district by our contractor to a Council site where it was sorted into categories such as plastic, organic or sanitary and weighed. From there, waste was sent to landfill and recycling was recycled via a local transfer station.
Aren't waste audits against the privacy act?
No, solid waste audits do not violate the privacy act. Once rubbish bags and bins are on the kerbside, they are the property of the collection company. We gained permission from the collection companies to collect their rubbish refuse in the audit.
How does Waipā compare to the rest of the country?
What is being thrown into Waipā bins is similar to that found in other parts of the country according to a nationwide waste audit of 652 houses run by WasteMINZ in 2020. The audit found that the average house set out 8.5kg of rubbish (Waipā is 9.8kg).
Another audit run by Love Food Hate Waste in 2018 looked at food specifically. Their report states each household set out 3.15kg of food waste which is similar to our local results (3.59kg).
What is Council going to do about food waste?
Council continues to educate the community about waste minimisation, as well as supporting non-profit organisation Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand. We are also investigating the demand for a weekly kerbside food scrap collection service and what that could look like.