Schools newsletter April 2017

Society in general is certainly more aware of the need to reduce, reuse or recycle its waste.

New Plymouth's Materials Recovery Facility.

A view of New Plymouth District Council's Materials Recovery Facility from the education room. See below for information about visiting this facility.

Waste minimisation & recycling

Education Officer Kevin Archer.

Education Officer Kevin Archer.

This issue of our Schools in the Environment (SITE) newsletter provides information, support and background to schools as they deal with their ‘waste’ situation.

Waste - what does it mean?

Most people regard ‘waste’ as material or substances that are no longer required or able to be used effectively and have lost their economic value.

We have made significant progress in Taranaki in shifting our thinking towards using waste as a resource and to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of. This includes reducing our resource consumption and recovering or reusing recyclables such as paper, cardboard, plastics and glass.

How are Taranaki's eductional institutions doing?

Many schools, early childhood centres and WITT (Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki) are commended for the progress they have made in reducing their waste and/or recycling more effectively. Other institutions are doing okay but some could do more.

How are people in Taranaki and NZ doing on an individual basis?

The latest figures show that each person in Taranaki produces around 500kg of waste that ends up in the regional landfill at Colson Rd, New Plymouth. While lower than the national average, the figure is hardly one for us to congratulate ourselves on. But in one way we can, as the figure has improved since the turn of the century when the New Zealand average was close to a tonne per person.

Household waste going to the regional landfill from our three districts.

Latest figures on percentages of what makes up the household waste going to the regional landfill from our three districts.

I am sure you will agree that we could all be doing a whole lot better. In all three districts, over 50% of the material going to the landfill should be going to other areas.

School waste audits

School waste audits are a great way to establish how well you are currently doing and to identify how you could do better. Basically all you need is waste that has been set aside to be collected to go to the landfill. The best day for conducting a waste audit is the day preceding its collection.

The waste is spread on to a large sheet or tarpaulin and from there sorted into categories such as recyclables (paper, cardboard, plastic), compostable material (food scraps, tissue paper, tea bags etc), glass and general waste. When completed, the bags of each category are weighed and totalled. Some classes present the data in the form of pie graphs to interested groups such as the school Board of Trustees.

In some cases, decisions can be made on the spot regarding immediate improvements. More often, the Council Education Officer, after talking to the Council Waste Minimisation Officer revisits the school with some suggestions that if implemented would improve the school’s performance and save the school considerable money.

Many schools repeat the audit twelve months later to assess the progress that has been made.The Council provides all the materials required for the waste audit, except for the tarpaulin/large sheet and obviously the waste material itself.

Make recycling easy!

How can we help?


  • Kevin to take a class lesson on the benefits of waste minimisation.
  • Kevin to take a waste audit at your school and provide follow-up suggestions.
  • Kevin to take a lesson for Year 4 and above about what happens to our recycling and what it can be made into.
  • Kevin to take a composting/worm farm lesson.


  • A visit to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in New Plymouth. Contact Mike Baker at New Plymouth District Council, phone 06 759 6060.
  • A visit to the Stratford Transfer Station. Contact Mike Oien, phone 06 765 6099.
  • A visit to the Egmont Refuse and Recycling site in Hawera. Contact Raymond Buckland, phone 06 278 0555.

Download the full newsletter in PDF format:

SITE newsletter 81 - April 2017 [PDF, 3.2 MB]

Waste Minimisation and Recycling