28 Feb 2018

'Tidy Kiwi' resurrected for new generation to keep NZ beautiful

From Checkpoint, 6:23 pm on 28 February 2018

The iconic 'Tidy Kiwi' anti-litter campaign of the 1970s and 80s is making a comeback.

The government has given $3.1 million to resurrect the Keep New Zealand Beautiful campaign in a bid to try to help kids tackle the soaring amount of waste.

Kiki the Kiwi and his litter critter friends are the face of the campaign this time round - they're spreading the word through schools that rubbish is clogging our beaches, parks and waterways.

At Brookby School near Clevedon, pupils are getting the message loud and clear; they know that if they see any rubbish, they need to put in the bin as soon as possible.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful chief executive Heather Saunderson said through 2015, volunteers collected 120,000 tonnes of rubbish from the streets of New Zealand - enough to fill 120 rugby fields half a metre high.

Ms Saunderson said that prompted them to spring back into action.

"Education is probably something that has been lacking over many years.

"Part of our role is to better educate people about recycling and composting and generally how to reduce their waste," she said.

Ms Saunderson said New Zealand's 'clean green' image was on the line and tourists were a key part of the campaign.

"I think if you have a tarnished image, that can affect the economics of a country.

"It is imperative for New Zealand and the tourism sector that we do maintain this clean, green image.

"At the same time we do need to focus on the tourism demographic and make sure that they're focused on how clean and green we are so that they're not adding to the problem," she said.

Waste Management Institute New Zealand chief executive Paul Evans welcomed the programme but said dealing with litter was only part of tackling New Zealand's waste problem.

He said a lot had changed since the Tidy Kiwi campaigns in the past, particularly an increase in the use of disposable plastics.

New Zealanders generate some of the highest levels of waste in the developed world - around 730kg each per year.

Mr Evans said up to half of our curbside waste could be recycled or composted - and waste going to landfills had increased by around 30 percent over the past seven years.

"We're probably five to ten years behind countries in Europe.

"We're a country that has amazing natural capital and simply put, we need to do better," he said.

The funding for the programme comes from the Environment Ministry's Waste Minimisation Fund and will also allow Keep New Zealand Beautiful to carry out a nationwide litter audit.

Ms Saunderson said that would help influence local and central government policies around dealing with waste.

The audit is expected to be completed within the next six months.