Recycling for Schools, Community Groups

26 August 2011

Wellington schools, community centres and community groups are to get a waste recycling service or funding assistance following a trial by the City Council.

Councillor Ngaire Best, the Council's 'Three Waters' and Waste Portfolio Leader, says a $50,000 grants fund has been allocated to help schools to recycle. Community centres and not-for-profit organisations in Wellington's suburbs can now also apply to have their recycling collected as part of the residential recycling programme.

Participating schools will be able to claim a maximum of $150 a year to pay for regular collections by private contractors.

Small early learning centres with volumes of recycling that are equivalent to a residential household may also be able to receive our kerbside service, if this is preferable to receiving the grant and if it is safe for Council collectors to get to the site. 

Cr Best says the six-week recycling trial, during June and July, followed controversy earlier this when the Council's new suburban residential recycling system was introduced. "We had a lot of schools upset that they were not included in the new system and concerned that they would not be able to continue with their recycling education.

"Most schools in the city have never had recycling collected by the Council but we had entered into informal arrangements with some schools that were part of the Enviroschools programme, which meant we were in fact taking their recycling each week.

"After discussions with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, councillors and other interested parties - including, obviously, schools  - we've decided there's great benefit to get all schools involved," says Cr Best.

"We're hoping, of course, that schools will actively involve pupils in recycling procedures. It's a great way of teaching young people about the benefits of recycling and, more importantly, reducing the generation of waste."

The $50,000 for the programme is from the Waste Minimisation Fund, which in turn is funded through a levy on waste, introduced under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008.  

Mike Mendonca, the Council's CitiOperations Manager, says it is preferable for schools to organise their own recycling collections with private contractors for a number of reasons:

  • It is difficult for the Council to include schools in the new suburban residential recycling schedules. "Our trucks are on routes and timings that might not fit with the routines of schools. We also don't like the idea of our trucks mixing it with children in and around schools."
  • Private contractors, which already serve many schools and other organisations, are much more able to be flexible with scheduling that will suit schools.
  • The grants system would enable the participation of schools that already have contracts with private collectors.

Mr Mendonca says the six-week trial "gave everyone a clear idea of what kind of recyclables, and what quantities, are produced by schools.

"Perhaps not surprisingly, 90% of the recycling is paper and cardboard. Schools also produce a lot of it - over 600 litres a week for the bigger schools - which is obviously much more than an average household that can make do with a 140-litre wheelie-bin and 45-litre green crate being emptied every fortnight."

Mr Mendonca says it is better for private contractors to take away the paper and cardboard because it cannot be compacted in Council trucks to the same extent as plastics and aluminium containers. "That amount of paper and cardboard would just fill our trucks up too quickly and leave less room for residential recycling."

We have also put in place an arrangement for small, not-for-profit organisations.

For more information, or to apply for a grant or to join the residential recycling scheme:

Recycling - Schools & Not-for-profit Organisations