SŌC Executive member Anthea Madill recently had the opportunity to facilitate working group on behalf of Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch around the topics of waste and circular economy. There were contributions from a wide range of areas including Council, community funding, public engagement, arts and conservation among other things.
One of SŌC’s aims for the workshop was to explore easy to implement changes that would contribute to a more sustainable city. We want to tackle the low hanging fruit as a step in a transition to an emission’s neutral community. With this, our group discussed the easy, realistic and affordable systems and activities that could help Christchurch reduce its waste.
Many of the suggestions inadvertently lead to a more circular economy, whether it be using reusable products to replace single use plastics or by building social capital through sharing at community pantries.
Images from The Rubbish Whisperer, local business developing and sourcing alternatives to single-use plastics to reduce marine plastic pollution.
- Support sustainable businesses
- Use reusable products such as coffee cups, sandwich wraps, reusable shopping bags and produce bags, drink bottles.
- Collaborating on resources – Christchurch Sharing Map
- Using sharing builds social capital and strengthens communities – so the more people that know about their local resources, the better
- Strong emphasis on sustainability needed in the curriculum.
- Starting from pre-schoolers, provide embedded sustainability that teaches not just the practice but the WHY.
- There could be a Christchurch collective of schools to implement the same sustainable practices, reach agreed targets. Use the same language and aim to empower rather than disempower individuals. Let students pick a ‘campaign’ and let kids do what they want to around that topic – ie make a website, write a drama, develop a product/solution as a school project. All the resources and technology is available already
- Good timing to be providing the avenues and opportunities for students and young people to be making positive changes
- A lot of the core ‘Values’ of schools have broad applications and could be easily linked to eco issues
- Provide an easy framework for schools – this could be school environment committees, student boards, school strike teams.
- ECE and school is a great approach to make it a whānau wide conversation – explain the reasons for sustainable behaviours (that they are not just ‘School rules’, that they are there for a reason).
- Sustainable fundraising – use sustainable products for fundraising to get parents to buy into the enviro work the students are being taught and encourages children to act on what they are learning.
- More supermarkets with refill stations for liquids, bulk bins and plastic free isles.
- Posters that communicate their sustainable work better to customers – Christchurch specific campaign or link in to nationwide campaigns.
- Business networks that encourage and support each other with sustainable practices.
- Practice what they preach – let all staff purchase in line with the sustainable procurement policy. For example, all paper purchased could be recycled, all notebooks could be recycled paper, recycled pens. Office Max has account purchase restrictions – ie you can set only recycled paper products to be allowed to be purchased to an account. (Note this applies to businesses implementing sustainable procurement as well).
- Important that the cost of sustainably alternatives isn’t a limiting factor for the Council. Need to set example for how it can be done.
- Support social enterprises for services and products where possible (see Akina fwd: certification/database as a starting point).
- Proposed incentives for hospitality businesses. Christchurch could have a certification or mark for businesses that shows they are working on sustainable practices.
- Support glass bottle sterilizing. There is currently nowhere for glass to be sent to be reused (?) without being recycled.
- Waste levy – currently very low. This could go up to encourage people to reduce waste. The flow on though is illegal dumping. Some interesting use/misuse of waste levies in Australia?
- Waste Water – waste water charge to make people use less water. This is a tricky one as may affect lower income/larger families disproportionately. ie at the moment rates are based on property and cover water use – if change to volumetric charge will be too hard for low incomes.
- Investigate results from Australia’s “Face Your Waste” campaign. While discouraging behaviours is a negative approach, peer pressure has been shown to effectively change people’s behaviours.
- Discourage insinkerators – increase waste to sewerage treatment plants and food waste could be composted.
- Promote reusable kits – ie a kit to have in your car/bag with reusable cup, container, utensils, straw etc.
- Clarify the confusion around Compostable, Commercially Compostable and Home compostable. Encourage local businesses and manufacturers to use HOME COMPOSTABLE packaging through a Council certification or trademark. This would be a selling point for manufacturers. (Example of brand is Econic packaging, NZ company, home compostable)
- The council could offer free switch for large yellow bin to small in exchange for large green bin. This would be useful for people reducing their plastic waste and growing vegies etc as will have much more green waste. Small sections don’t have enough space for large composting.
- Council could subsidize Bokashi bins for homes and/or businesses. Apparently, this was done years ago. Would make composting food waste easier for households (ie renters, small sections etc) and would reduce green waste to landfill (Currently 40%!) – possibly also offer to central city businesses that have no Organics pick up and small space.
- Support businesses that are trying to do sustainable practices but struggle to communicate it with the public. Showcase successes, advertise opportunities for them to learn or celebrate.
- Product stewardship – putting the ownership of the waste put into the system onto the producers. These fees/tax could pay for proper disposal of waste or put pressure on producers to switch to more sustainable packaging options.
- Bottle deposits – don’t reduce single use plastic consumption but to make it more likely to be disposed of /recycled properly. Once a value is put on it, people are more careful with it.
- Regulate the types of plastic that NZ manufactures can use for packaging. This will reduce the confusion, decrease the contamination and increase the potential for recycling or reuse.
- Ban plastic wrapping around vegetables, plastic produce bags and fruit stickers