By Mick Jensen
Rakaia’s self-managed recycling will come to an end when wheelie bins are introduced into the township from September 1.
Dozens of volunteers have lent a hand over the last 17 years with sorting recyclables from rubbish at Rakaia Resource Recovery Park, one of the few communities in the country to take on the task.
Typically, after a 15 cubic metre load of recycled materials has been sorted, just one cubic metre is left over and sent to the landfill.
Over the years, the facility has recycled hundreds of tonnes of cardboard, scrap metal and green waste and millions of cans, beer stubbies and fizzy drink/milk bottles.
The origins of the self-managed recycling system began when a few like minded green sympathisers decided that they wanted to do their bit for zero waste in Mid Canterbury, said Rakaia Community Association chairman Neil Pluck.
Mr Pluck, a supporter of the effort from the beginning, said volunteers had changed over the years, but a hard core group of half a dozen had been involved the whole time.
Recyclers spent around an hour or so at the recovery park from 8am each Saturday using a conveyor belt system that was simple, but effective.
The system for recycling had been made easy for the community and had been well-supported.
“Over all the years, the sorters have only missed two Saturday sessions because of other commitments, but even then, they still came in the following Monday to sort – it’s been an amazing effort.”
The Rakaia Recovery Park had also banked valuable income over the years, which had been used for community benefit.
Although it was the end of an era, the goal had always been “to lend a hand and to help the district get better at recycling”, said Mr Pluck.
That goal had been achieved with the support of Ashburton council.
Mr Pluck said he and the Rakaia sorters welcomed the council’s move to a new wheelie bin and recycling system, which had the aim of moving closer towards zero waste.