Recycling operation to undergo review

Dave Clare
Dave Clare
As "mountains" of recyclable materials sit at the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park in Oamaru, Waitaki Resource Recovery Trust (WRRT) manager Dave Clare says the trust is reviewing its operation in order to maintain a service for the community.

Next week, the Waitaki District Council will consider a lump sum payment to the trust as it requires "urgent financial assistance" as markets for recyclable materials have continued to slump.

Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen's report to council - titled Collapse of Global Recycling Markets and Impact on WRRT Operations - recommends a $40,000 lump sum payment to the trust as "immediate relief".

Mr Clare said the payment would carry the trust through to July 1, when it is due to receive it's next quarterly instalment of its $242,000 annual operational grant.

"By which stage ... we hope to have procedures, operational changes in place, which will be done with full knowledge and co-operation with the community as well as council," he said.

"We have mountains of product.

"It's serious. We had hoped that cardboard and paper were on the up, we had two quarters where there was a slight glimmer and increase in pricing, the next quarter it's dropped 20% again.

"We can't keep processing everything at a cost with no return.

"It is totally uneconomic to spend thousands [of dollars] a week to sort and bale recycling to store it when the ultimate destination may well be landfill if a market can't be found."

To date, no recyclable material from the Waitaki recovery park had been diverted to landfill, but Mr Clare said that was happening in some parts of New Zealand.

There were "two or three" types of recyclable plastics that had not moved from the site since June last year.

But at the end of May, two 40ft containers would be taken off site at no return but at no further cost to the trust.

Mr Clare said a country-wide approach to plastic recycling was required and would require leadership from the Government.

"We can't rely on shipping our plastics offshore anymore," he said.

"There are a number of projects that have been bubbling away for a long time, they just haven't reached fruition.

"This may well be the driver to stimulate some action."

Mr Jorgensen's report to council states the trust's request for urgent financial assistance meant the report lacked some detail, including what a communication plan with the community would look like.

In December the council approved a $55,000 grant to cover the loss of income due to the loss of international markets for recycling, and a grant of $30,000 for a baler the trust purchased to deal with the increased volume in material being received at the recovery park.

Council also increased the annual grant from $220,000 to $242,000.

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