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Coffee-cup recycling scheme first in NZ

Flagstaff Team

Giant coffee-cup-shaped bins will soon appear in the centre of Devonport, as the community moves to lead the country in recycling takeaway coffee cups.

The Devonport Community Recycling Centre is matching a $28,000 Auckland Council waste-minimisation grant to invest around $50,000 into a hot-composting system for local businesses’ food waste.

“In a first for New Zealand we will be recycling coffee cups,” says Andrew Walters, director of Global Action Plan Oceania, the not- for-profit that runs the Devonport Community Recycling Centre. Generally, people buy coffee in compostable cups thinking they are doing something good for the environment. But the cups go to land fill, where they break down and produce methane gas, Walters says.

“By us putting our infrastructure locally in Devonport, no matter what cafe people buy from, the cup will be composted.”

Walters is keen to see Devonport return to the days 40 years ago when it led the country with kerbside recycling. The centre is working with the Devonport Business Improvement District group to get all of the around 20 cafes in Devonport on board with the scheme.

It is building the composting plant and purchasing a shredder for the cups, including lids, over the next month. This is all part of a wider move to provide an efficient, cost-effective recycling service, taking cardboard, glass and food waste from local businesses.

In January, Global Action Plan Oceania got a separate $20,500 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum, an industry group that supports packaging and promotes glass recycling. It used this grant to buy a ‘hook bin’, which extends the recycling centre’s ability to recycle glass bottles and jars for local businesses.

The 30-tonne hook bin has three large connected trays to separately collect green, brown and clear glass. A hook at the end allows a truck to pick up the three, already sorted, bins together and transfer them to glass recycling centres. The capacious bin has the added advantage of reducing the number of truck trips along Lake Rd, from around 24 every two months to one trip.

On its return journey, the truck brings back a new sustainable landscaping product, a form of metal slag, sourced from Glenbrook in Auckland’s Franklin district. This previously went to land fill and is now on sale at the recycling centre.

In total, the Devonport Community Recycling Centre is investing around $100,000 in recycling waste from local businesses, a goal that was identified by the Zero Waste Devonport Steering Group set up about a year ago.

Source: Devonport Flagstaff 8 February 2019. View Online.