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Published: 2003-09-18 00:00:00

Remanufacturing 50 tonnes of soap flakes into detergent, finding 200 pairs of gumboots for the Red Cross and re-using 50,000 plastic bags was all in a day’s work for the Waste Exchange last year.

The Waste Exchange Waikato and Bay of Plenty successfully kept more than 10,000 cubic metres of waste from landfill over the past year. Funded by Environment Waikato, Environment Bay of Plenty and local councils, the Waste Exchange is a not-for-profit service that puts business with waste in touch with others who can re-use or recycle it.

Principal Waste Exchange co-ordinator Pippa Russell said the Exchange operated an 0800 NO THROW number and a 24 hour website, providing a cost-effective way to help groups and industry improve the environment.

Highlights of the year included diverting over 50,000 plastic bags from landfill to be reused. This meant one company was able to keep over 820 tonnes out of a landfill, saving more than $40,000 and transport costs, she said.

The 2002/03 period showed a 41 percent rise in use of the 0800 number, with over 1400 calls, and 2997 website visitors. More than 836 companies or groups use the service, with a 35 percent increase in new business. The 1640 material referrals made in 2003/04, combined with 206 new exchanges (a 27 percent rise), contributed to a total number of 326 exchanges for the year.

“The success of the service has led to operations in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne districts and an increase in staff in the Bay of Plenty area. Other major successes outside the defined areas include diverting 50 tonnes of soap flakes from Unilever in Wellington to a cottage industry in the Waikato and Auckland to be remanufactured into soap bars.”

Two hundred pairs of gumboots moved from an Auckland Food manufacturer to the Red Cross in Palmerston North for volunteers’ use, which had become an ongoing arrangement,” she said.

“The Waste Exchange goals are to continuously refine its systems, strengthen its partnerships with other exchanges and to align and develop a nation-wide reporting system for diverting business waste from landfill.