Presenter:  Chris Keeling, Environment Canterbury

Presentation title:  It’s the pits! Getting a handle on non-natural rural waste in Canterbury

In Canterbury, over 60% of the land area is used for farming, but relatively little is known about how much waste farming activities produce, and how it is managed. In 2012, Environment Canterbury commissioned scoping studies to investigate the management of non-natural rural waste (non-organic, solid waste) generated by farms and agribusinesses in the region. The preliminary studies found that very little rural waste data exists in New Zealand but, based on the limited information available, the amount of product entering the rural sector was not reappearing as waste. Around the country, traditional rural waste management practices essentially involve burning, burying and bulk storing waste, leaving large quantities of waste unaccounted for and the potential for a long term environmental legacy.  From the perspective of a regional council, it is important to understand how the management and disposal of this waste may be impacting our natural resources and identify ways of reducing that impact if necessary.     As a starting point, Environment Canterbury undertook on-farm surveys to gather rural waste data; identifying waste streams, quantities and management methods from a cross section of farm types in Canterbury.  The survey results were scaled up to give a region-wide view.  The study also considered the public and private sector waste disposal options currently available in rural areas. The research has produced interesting results and suggests that there are significant issues to deal with in terms of the quantities of wastes being produced, where it ends up, and attitudes towards waste across rural Canterbury. This project continues and the next step is formulating a strategy to deal with the issues identified. Ultimately, Environment Canterbury aims to tackle the rural waste management challenges in a collaborative and innovative way by working with local authorities, the rural sector and industry.

Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2013

Date: Thursday 24 October 2013