19 May 2020

Auckland house waste during Covid-19 lockdown increases 12 percent

3:59 pm on 19 May 2020

Data released today shows Auckland households have produced much more waste during the lockdown - with extra landfill rubbish that could fill 66 double decker buses.

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File image. Photo: Creative Commons

The city council said 1870 more tonnes of rubbish were collected in April compared to the same period last year, an increase of 12 percent.

There were also 326 extra tonnes of recycling, with glass increased by 26 percent and 27 percent more HDPE plastic, the opaque plastic used for milk bottles and cleaning products.

There were only 4 tonnes more aluminium cans recycled in April and 18 percent less PET plastic bottles, according to the council.

Councillor Richard Hills, chair of the environment and climate change committee, said the spike was natural with people staying in and eating at home during alert levels 3 and 4.

"I'm really proud of the efforts that everyone made over this time and the household waste increase reflects that we were staying inside."

He said Auckland's glass recycling was pressed here in New Zealand, so the increase was good news for local recyclers.

"We will continue to advocate for onshore recycling capacity for our other recycling material such as plastics, paper and cardboard. Processing this material locally means we won't need to ship it overseas, and it can instead be a valuable resource for Aucklanders," Hills said.

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Recycling and rubbish tonnages were down in January and February this year, which suggested that households under normal conditions were producing less waste, especially when accounting for Auckland's growing population, the council said.

It said about 80 percent of the total waste to landfill came from commercial sources, not households, so the lockdown may have a net positive impact on overall waste across Auckland.

Hills encouraged people to keep considering ways to reduce their waste footprint.

"Rinsing your plastics, glass, and cans, and properly recycling can make a difference, but we also need to move away from a throwaway culture and single-use plastic more generally.

"Everyone needs to reduce their waste to achieve a sustainable future for Tāmaki Makaurau."

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