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Roadside rubbish increasing and expensive problem for councils

By Georgia May Gilbertson | 16 Aug 2019 17:06

Fly Tipping

Faded plastic bottles, twisted beer cans and torn sweet wrappers on roadsides are no surprise to contractors who have to pick them up daily. 

It's the dirty nappies, used condoms, sanitary items, hypodermic needles and animal carcases that get to them the most. 

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon sight on New Zealand roadsides or parking bays, with councils spending thousands of dollars on cleanups every year. 

In Hawke's Bay alone, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) spends close to $140,000 on 502 kilometres of roadside cleanups every year.

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From televisions, to clothing, lawn clippings and general rubbish, the Hastings District Council says it is regularly cleaning up roadsides across the region.

Regional transport systems manager Oliver Postings said the littering of roadsides was"nothing new". 

"Given the length of the state highway network and the remoteness of some areas, it is not possible to completely prevent people who are determined to do so from dumping rubbish at the side of the road."

Roadside littering was "illegal, inconsiderate and harmful to the environment", he said. 

Hastings District Council's Wendy Schollum said about $250,000 was spent on cleaning up rubbish in the district each year, for the past five years.

She said the Hastings spend  was  an incredibly wasteful activity. "Our spend translates to about six to seven basketball courts that we could have provided for our community."

It's more than Christchurch's spend of $214,317 in the last financial year. Christchurch City Council  city streets manager Mark Pinner said the roadside waste problem had been "steadily increasing" and fly tipping was a common problem.

In Wellington, a spokesperson from the city council said $7 million was spent on cleaning up rubbish each year, but that cost included bin collections, illegal dumping, loose litter collection and graffiti cleanups. 

Schollum said the Hastings District Council would be launching an environmental initiative to help clean up the region within the next few months, with hopes of encouraging local schools to get on board.

Parks and property services manager Colin Hosford said roadside littering was an ongoing issue across the region with contractors regularly targeting "hotspots". 

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Chairman of Zero Waste Network Marty Hoffart says New Zealand has a major waste problem.

One of those was  the roundabout at Te Awa o Te Atua Reserve near Hastings, where iwi collect flax for weaving. But the area was tainted by polystyrene, smashed televisions, broken bottles, used clothing and lawn clippings. 

"Most of the areas are urban edge, but close enough where they can flip out the junk," Hosford said. 

He points to an abandoned television, its insides pulled out and  filled with glass bottles, cardboard packaging and plastic. 

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Plastic continues to litter both beaches and roadsides across the country.

"Most of the stuff in here is recyclable. People can just put this out at the end of their driveway once a week to be collected. But instead they dump it on the road side.

"We picked up nine mattresses on the side of the road in one day." 

Zero Waste Network chairman Marty Hoffart​ said New Zealand was "going backwards" when it came to reducing waste and that illegal dumping would "never go away". 

"The New South Wales Environmental Authority in Australia recently introduced a 'Return and Earn' initiative with two billion drink containers collected just 19 months after its establishment," Hoffart said. 

"Tourism is our biggest industry and people are coming here to look at our pristine environment, but we're one of the biggest disposers of rubbish."       


Source: Stuff

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