Recycled Roading

Here’s an interesting snippit from the Nelson City Council



For the first time, the top layer of asphalt removed from a Nelson road has been recycled, with excellent results.

The resurfacing of over a kilometre of Rutherford Street saw over 1,000 tonnes of asphalt millings removed before the new surface was laid. Rather than dump it, Council and contractor Downer agreed to look at recycling it to surface rural roads.

A trial of laying the millings through a paver was carried out on a portion of Enner Glynn Road with great success. The relaid asphalt millings produce a hard wearing, durable pavement that’s easy to maintain.

The recycling meant there was virtually zero waste to the Rutherford Street project and the method will now be used in other jobs.

Smart phones can help reduce litter?

Beyond the beauty

by Cathy Leov

I watched a nature programme about Hawaii this week: Message in the Waves.

It started out showing the beauty of Hawaii and how the locals are becoming more and more aware of the need for conservation to preserve this beauty.

It shared a bit of history,  how their ancestors had respected the natural environment and known about conservation, but as they became more ‘modern’ they had forgotten the old ways.  Now they are starting again – they are teaching the school children to care for the beaches, the reefs  the oceans and all the wildlife.

The documentary showed lots of schools of brightly coloured fish, reefs of beautiful coral and lithe young people surfing.  Lovely, just my sort of TV, I thought.

But away from the main tourist areas, they showed a different Hawaii – one that shocked me, a place of so much litter that it was hard to believe that this was also part of Hawaii. None of the tourist brochures showed this place.

The marine currents in the Pacific Ocean swirl around, past the coastlines of the many countries on the Pacific Rim and collect up all the marine debris along the way. This debris then washes ashore, sometimes many, many miles from its source. A lot of it washes up on the Hawaiian coast.

More than just an eyesore, the greater tragedy is that this place is an albatross nesting area. The albatross parents are swallowing the debris and feeding it to their chicks. Many chicks are dying from starvation, their stomachs full of plastic.  Of those that survive, many become tangled in the floating debris when they try to leave the nest.

Of course, it’s not only albatross that are affected, many marine animals are either eating the plastic, or becoming trapped and entangled in it, leading to injury and death.

Unlike Climate Change, there is no debate that this tragedy is caused by humans.

There is no simple, quick remedy either; there are literally millions of tons of plastic floating around the Pacific, a huge multinational effort is required to even make a start on removing it all.

But we can all take steps to slow the growth of the problem.

Stop using so much ‘disposable’ plastic.

It doesn’t actually take a great amount of thought or effort to use other materials –  there’s a wealth of information available on the internet if you can’t come up with your own alternatives (start here).  And make sure that what we do use, we dispose of properly. There’s no need for hundreds of toothbrushes to be washing up on Hawaiian beaches.

The documentary finishes with a very catchy song from Hawaiian musician Jack Johnston – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Make this your theme song, the albatross will thank you for it.

Want to make your opinion public?

Top Shelf ProductionsAre you in your twenties? Do you have strong opinions on only buying locally made goods? Are workers’ rights important to you?

Are you critical of clothes, sneakers, phones etc being made overseas?

If you want to be part of this exciting new TV3 show go to:

or call 0800 463 978

Guide to safe plastics

Ignoring the terrible toll that waste plastic takes on the environment, many are directly harmful to us humans.

Mindfood magazine have published this short guide to safe plastics:


“An Annual Eco Fashion Runway Event Exposing NZ Eco Fashion”

NZ Eco Fashion Week

20th & 21st SEPTEMBER @ The Notre Dame des Missions Performing Arts Centre at Sacred Heart College, Laings Road, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.

NZ Eco Fashion Exposed is an Eco Fashion runway of ecologically, environmentally and ethically sustainable, plus up cycled wearable fashion.

This inaugural will feature up to 14 designers from as far as Waiheke Island in the North Island to Dunedin in the South Island. The aim of this runway event is to highlight and make accessible to the public eco-fashion options including wearable fashion, accessories, gifts and items for the home.

This concept is a first for New Zealand on this scale and has been a huge success overseas in Vancouver, Berlin and Hong Kong. From a fashion perspective – ‘ECO is IN’. This will be an event the Fashionistas and environmentally conscious people will want to attend.

The event will consist of workshops, pop up shop, a children’s eco fashion runway and the main event on the Saturday night where our designers will take to the runway with their eco fashion creations. Our designers are excited about presenting fashion that is designed to reduce waste, and put together with materials where people have good working conditions and where the environment is taken into consideration in the manufacturing process.

Read more:

The Green Living Show 2013


The Rise of the Scythe

The Rise of the Scythe

“It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.”
Mahathma Ghandi

The Rise of the Scythe »

Oxfam: Dole backs down on use of “Ethical Choice”


On the very same day that Oxfam released a report highlighting disturbing labour and environmental issues on Philippine banana plantations, Dole has agreed to discontinue use of its “Ethical Choice” label and withdraw its application to trademark the term.

Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates, said, “We welcome this announcement. This is great news for New Zealanders. Dole has realised that the public won’t accept marketing spin and self-made claims.

“More importantly, we hope that this is the start of a process that will improve conditions for people who are working hard to grow the bananas we eat. Our concern lies with the women, children and men in the Philippines who are struggling to get by under conditions we would never tolerate for ourselves – child labour, toxic pesticide exposure, workers paid below a living wage, and a denial of rights to form independent trade unions – these are unacceptable regardless of whether they happen in Manukau or Mindanao.

“While we welcome Dole’s decision to discontinue using the ‘Ethical Choice’ label, we are disappointed that Dole is not being more constructive in addressing very serious problems identified in the research report. We are still waiting for Dole’s substantive response to this report sent to them four weeks ago. We and the researchers are very willing to engage with Dole in order to ensure worker’s rights are respected and conditions are improved in their banana supply chain.

“Today we’ve seen an outpouring of public concern around the issues of confusing labels and exploitation of workers. This is a demonstration of how consumer power can lead to better lives for farmers in developing countries,” said Coates.

Read Oxfam’s report: The Labour and Environmental Situation in Philippine Banana Plantations Exporting to New Zealand

Cash4Good competition launched for schools and community groups

Gina Demptster holding an Anchor bottle

The Unpackit Awards are today launching a new competition for schools and community groups, to get people talking about packaging waste and how to bring home less rubbish.

The Cash4Good competition will run in tandem with the Unpackit Awards, the people’s choice awards for New Zealand’s best and worst packaging.

The Cash4Good competition has a prize package of $5,200 which will be split between schools and community groups. The school and community group supported by the most Unpackit voters will each receive $1,500. Second and third prizes will be $750 and $350.

Unpackit organiser Gina Dempster said the aim of the Cash4Good competition is to get communities talking about packaging and how to reduce packaging waste.

“We will provide resources to interested schools and community groups to help them start conversations about packaging in their communities. The idea is to get people talking and thinking about their packaging choices before they go shopping.

Ms Dempster said it is really hard to weigh up which packaging is better for the environment while choosing what to buy.

“There are so many other factors competing for our attention when we make a purchase: price, taste, brand loyalty, position on the shelf and the look of the packaging.

“If people are well-informed before they go shopping, they are more likely to choose eco-friendly packaging which is minimal and can be recycled, re-used or composted.”

Ms Dempster said despite research* which shows massive support for recycling, most homes end up with a bin full of non-recyclable packaging at the end of the week.

“Often consumers have little choice but to buy packaging which is going to end up in the rubbish, and that’s where companies, especially food manufacturers and retailers, need to up their game.

“There is still a lot of ridiculous packaging out there – and that’s what drives the success of the Unpackit Awards. We’ve had 224 nominations for the 2013 Awards so far, more already than the total (215) we had for the 2011/2012 Awards,” she said. “Nominations for this year don’t close until July 5th, so we’re expecting a record number.”

84 of the nominations for the Worst Packaging Award this year are for the Anchor triple-layer bottle, which is worth less than half the value of normal milk bottles to recyclers.

“The public backlash over the Anchor bottle shows that people expect new packaging to be well-designed for the job and to be better for the environment. If companies are going to spend big bucks advertising their packaging, they need to make sure it is consumer-friendly and environmentally-friendly or they are going to get burned,” said Ms Dempster.

*Unpackit packaging waste poll, November 2010

Karen Driver: TakeBack of e-waste good move

Eight years ago, after moving to New Zealand, we purchased a new, small cathode ray tube TV, one of those boxy ones.

Flat screens were around but far too expensive and our TV viewing didn’t warrant a big investment. After a few years of terrible and variable reception in different houses we invested in a Freeview box. Suddenly the picture was fabulous and we could get more channels, enough for us.

With the impending switch off of the analogue TV signal looming (April 28 in the South Island), we were sitting pretty, already sorted. Then recently we woke up to a few sessions of the TV fizzing inside and it was no more, completely dead. Time to buy a new one, or should we just buy a second-hand old one?

We already had the box to convert it. But what about the video? We would need another set-top box for that. So we bought a simple, stupid (that is, not smart) flatscreen TV and an aerial. The Freeview box is still in use, connected to the satellite dish and feeding the video player. Sorted!

So, what to do with the old TV? The retailers were consistently unhelpful – generally suggesting they could “sort of recycle . . .” our old one. This translated to the fact they could take it off us (some would charge) but then chuck it into their skip – so that’s not recycling then. I did inform them that there was an option they could promote to their customers locally but they weren’t enthusiastic.

A few months later things have changed. TVs can now be recycled in Nelson and Tasman for no more than $5 thanks to the Government’s TV TakeBack programme. Recycler RCN e-Cycle is working with Harvey Norman and Noel Leeming. Smiths City and Powerstore will also accept TVs for recycling.

These stores are open to take TVs now; Harvey Norman takes them for free and the rest charge $5. There is no requirement to purchase anything from the stores.

On April 22, Nelmac (8 Vickerman St, Nelson) and the three Tasman Resource Recovery Centres in Richmond (Beach Rd), Mariri and Takaka will also start accepting TVs for $5, with the support of Nelson City and Tasman District councils. But don’t forget that if you have a perfectly good television, it will work with a set-top box. You don’t need a new TV.

The subsidy is provided by the Ministry for the Environment through the Waste Minimisation Fund. They are also supporting investment in infrastructure to ensure that we have the facilities in this country to recycle electronic waste beyond the lifetime of this scheme. This fund comes from the levy that is paid when we put stuff into landfill.

Internationally, retailers and manufacturers are starting to take responsibility for TVs and other e-waste at end-of-life. I applaud the retailers involved in this TV TakeBack scheme for starting to take responsibility and I am calling on the Government to ensure that they all do the same, long term, for all e-waste.

TVs contain hazardous materials – they are hazardous waste. We shouldn’t be throwing them into our landfills or anywhere else. They also contain materials that are too important environmentally to be used once and then discarded. The best option is always to reuse them, not create the waste problem in the first place.

If they can’t be reused as whole items then let’s reuse the materials, stop the toxic stuff from polluting our environment and ensure that our TVs are handled responsibly at the end of their life. Karen Driver is the waste manager for the Nelson Environment Centre.


TV TakeBack switched on in NZ’s South Island today

TV Takeback Logo

TV TakeBack starts in most of the South Island from tomorrow (25 March) with the North Island scheduled for later this year.

Convenient drop off points will be opening around the South Island over the next few days so check Where can I recycle for the ones nearest to you.

TV TakeBack is an initiative that involves the Government partnering with a range of recyclers, retailers, producers and councils to divert televisions from landfill. For a limited time the government is subsidising TV recycling so the cost to the public in most of the South Island will be no more than $5.

This follows a successful start in Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast where more than 20,000 TVs were collected for recycling.

TV TakeBack is due to reach the lower North Island and Auckland in mid 2013 and the rest of the North Island in September ahead of the digital switch over in each region. Some retailers may also be offering TV Takeback recycling around New Zealand outside of these main phases of the programme.