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Waste MinimisationWhakahekenga para

The 4 Rs. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover. Let's work at reducing our waste!

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Waste Minimisation

New Zealand's waste problem is an increasing issue, and one that continues to grow. Every year almost one tonne of solid waste for every New Zealander ends up being buried at our landfills.

In 2018-2019 Central Hawke's Bay District Council reviewed how they managed and minimised waste in the district.  As a result of this review  the Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (WMMP)was adopted in September 2019. You can view the Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2019 here.

The Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (WMMP) was informed through a key stakeholder group, consultation and public feedback and a waste assessment that was carried out in May and June 2019. You can view a copy of the Waste Assessment here


4R's Waste Management Hierarchy

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to lessen the quantity of waste you throw away. Consider Recovery.


Take your own bags to the supermarket, this saves collecting bags that you don't really want, buy products with less packaging or recyclable packaging.


Reusable shopping bags are readily available and proven to be cost effective while also protecting the environment, second-hand dealers and charity groups will often take useful items.


Take advantage of the recycling collection that happens once a week in Waipawa and Waipukurau. 


Consider composting or use of a building recycler who may recover materials from buildings.


Below is a list showing how long it takes for the following common items to break down.

Item Breakdown Time
Cigarette butts 1 - 5 years
Aluminium cans and caps 500 years
Glass bottles 1000 years
Plastic Bags 10 - 20 years
Plastic coated paper 5 years
Plastic film containers 20 - 30 years
Nylon fabric 30 - 40 years
Leather up to 50 years
Wool socks 1 - 5 years
Orange and banana peels up to 2 years
Tin cans 50 years

As you can see from this table it takes a very long time for many of our everyday resources to break down in the landfill. After the waste is buried some of it will start to break down causing potential pollution problems such as leachate and methane gas. Leachate is a liquid made up of rainwater and rotting material, which is harmful to the environment if not properly contained and treated.

Methane gas is harmful to the Ozone layer and comes from the breakdown of organic materials. About 6% of New Zealand's Methane emissions come from landfills.

What is Compost?

Free Composting workshops happening in CHB this October and November

Quite simply it is a mixture of organic material that is used as fertiliser. Generally, the ingredients used to make compost come from our gardens and kitchens (food scraps) although organic material is anything that was once living.

As the organic material breaks down, it changes and becomes what is known as humus. During the process, soil micro-organisms, worms and insects convert the organics into a soil-like material which can then be used in the garden.

The benefits of Compost

  • It returns organic matter to the soil.
  • It reduces the harmful effects of organic waste in landfill (e.g. water pollution, emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and bad smells).
  • It reduces the need for chemical fertilisers in your garden.
  • It reduces rubbish collection costs.
  • It reduces the space needed for landfills.

How to get started

Mitre10 has a guide on how to make your own compost with information on what can and can’t go into compost, as well as common problems.

Create Your Own Eden, an initiative of the Auckland, Nelson and Invercargill City Councils, has a comprehensive guide to making your own compost.

Types of compost bins

Before you choose a compost bin you should consider what you will be putting in it. Larger, open bins are better for people with large amounts of garden waste. Smaller, enclosed bins are more suitable for households with large quantities of food waste as they provide a barrier to rodents.

Make your own compost bin

If you are making your own bin, you can use a wide range of material, including chicken wire, wood, plywood, bricks, concrete blocks, etc.

Stacking bins have the advantage of being moveable and can be extended to cope with large amounts of waste. Black polythene or sacks may be used for lining, warmth and moisture control. Wrap a netting frame around wooden stakes. Line these with newspaper or cardboard to retain heat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Composting

  • What makes my compost smell?

A compost high in nitrogen with no air will become acidic. Add carbon and turn your compost.

  • How do I keep rodents out?

Add grass clippings to increase heat and turn regularly.

  • What can I not put in a compost bin?

See here for a list of what not to compost-

  • How long do I have to wait until my compost is ready?

A well maintained compost bin will produce compost in 3-4 months in summer, and up to 6 months in winter. However, times vary depending on the method, bin contents, time of year and regularity of turning.

  • How will compost help my garden?

Compost feeds the soil, helps with water retention and encourages earthworms into your garden.


What is Bokashi?

If you don’t have enough space for a compost bin then Bokashi offers an alternative to composting.

Bokashi was developed in Japan and literally means ‘fermented organic matter’.
A fermented wheat- bran mixture called Compost-Zing is used in a bucket system where food is literally pickled. The final product has a slight sweet/sour smell.

One of the benefits of Bokashi is that it has no odour so can be placed inside. This means that you can add products such as meat and fish, which are discouraged in the usual compost due to vermin & odours.

Not only is it easy to use, readily available, and environmentally friendly, it also gives you many advantages over regular composting:

  • up to 50% quicker composting time
  • less odour as the food decays
  • healthier and more productive plants
  • requires no mixing
  • produces a natural pour-on liquid fertiliser as well as physical compost. has all the information and products to help you get started. 

What is Worm Farming?

Worm farming is another alternative to composting; it is also referred to as 'vermiculture' or vermi-composting.

Worms happily eat food scraps and excrete valuable materials known as vermicasts and worm tea which are high in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) compared to ordinary soil.

The benefits of Worm Farming

  • Casts and worm tea are fantastic for plants
  • If you have mostly kitchen waste and live in a home with little or no outdoor space, a worm farm is a good option
  • Same environmental and cost benefits as composting
  • Kids enjoy them.

How to get started

Mitre10 has a guide to starting a worm farm as well as links to buy any products you may need-

Create Your Own Eden, an initiative of the Auckland, Nelson and Invercargill City Councils, has a comprehensive guide on worm farms-

If you’d like something a bit different then Forest and Bird have a guide on making a worm farm out of old tyres-

Types of worm bins

Bins generally have two to three layers; some bins can have extra layers added to increase capacity. Note that it is easier to harvest worm casts from bins which have more shallow layers. Size, price and functionality vary a lot, so ask questions before you buy!

What worms like

  • Moist fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Aged horse manure
  • Dirty paper
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Hair

What worms do not like

  • Spicy food, chilli, onion, garlic
  • Meat and milk products
  • Flour products
  • Large amounts of cooked food
  • Garden waste
  • Shiny paper
  • Citrus/very acidic fruit

Common worm farming problems




Rotting food

Too much for population

Feed less

Fruit/vinegar flies around farm or small white bugs and worms

Too acidic

Cover food with damp paper and add Lime to increase pH

Worms climbing up sides/worms very fat and pale

Too wet

Add paper products and dry leaves, gently fork holes in the working layer


Too dry or acidic

Add water/lime. If your worm farm is on legs, place each leg in a container of water to stop such pests from getting in.

Food rotting and not eaten

Too much food/wrong food/ pieces too big

Add less food, break into small pieces

No worm tea

Not enough water

Add water

Frequently asked questions about Worm Farming

  • How many worms do I need to start?

1000 is OK, but a bin takes some time to get going; 2000 worms (500gms) will get a bin working much more quickly and efficiently.

  • What if there are lots of fruit flies?

Add a decent sprinkling of lime and wait a day or two. If you still have flies, add more lime and carbon material (e.g., paper or dried leaves).

  • Do I need to lime my worm bin?

A small handful of lime or gypsum once a month helps to keep the food sweet.

  • What do I do if I go on holiday?

Add to the bin as follows: 1-2 weeks: empty out your fridge of any fruit and vegetables 2-3 weeks: dried grass or coconut fibre from a garden centre or worm grower 4+ weeks: coconut fibre block from garden centre or worm grower.

  • How much do I dilute the 'worm tea'?

Worm tea is very high in nitrogen and needs to be watered down to about 1:10, or so it is the colour of weak tea. The liquid is so rich that it can be harmful if not diluted.

  • What can I do with the worm casts?

Worm casts can be mixed with potting mix, seed raising mix and compost (about 20% casts to 80% mix), and is the perfect medium into which to plant seedlings, plants and trees. Casts do not have to be diluted for use in the garden, but make sure they are mixed in to the soil. For best results, add compost and mulch as soil cover.

Love Food, Hate Waste Campaign

Did you know that food waste costs New Zealand $872 million a year, with the burden in Hawke’s Bay alone totaling nearly $33 million ($563 per household)?Top 10 foods

The ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign aims to help you prevent food waste by educating Kiwi's on:

  • Using up leftovers with yummy recipes
  • Planning meals to use up excess food
  • Making a shopping list to prevent buying too much food
  • How to store food correctly to prevent it from going bad

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign is being run by local councils across the country and all four Hawke’s Bay Councils are involved.

Similar campaigns overseas have resulted in significant reductions in food sent to landfill – by 18% in the UK. Such a reduction in New Zealand would see 46,600 tonnes diverted from landfills annually.

You can follow Love Food, Hate Waste on Facebook and check out the new website for more great tips and ideas.


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