Centre of excellence for Raglan’s zero waste warriors

Xtreme Zero Waste Collections Coordinator Awatea Dillon, left, and Senior Processor Kaleb Kingi with the new glass handling equipment.

A leader in New Zealand’s war on waste is further upping its game with a centre of excellence partly funded by the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF).

Xtreme Zero Waste in Raglan has developed a Centre of Excellence modelling zero waste sector best practice infrastructure and innovation. Managing Director Stephen van Wonderen says it will not only improve their already impressive waste diversion rate, but offer training and mentoring to others wanting to establish zero waste programmes.

“The Centre will offer the Zero Waste Network national certification training courses, mentoring of community groups and cater for groups taking formal tours of Xtreme’s Centre, which has had some 27,000 visitors to date,” Steve says.

The GPF’s grant of $25,000 was used for equipment which reduces the manual handling of glass, an example of best practice for ensuring high-quality colour sorting of glass. Glass must be colour sorted before it can be recycled in Auckland.

“The grant allowed a much-needed upgrade of our 21-year-old manual system, which required complete replacement to be effective. Other than making the system more efficient, it’s also improved health and safety for our team,” Steve says.

Additional funding for the Centre has come from the Ministry for the Environment for a new processing building, bailer, and plastics processing equipment.

The project is also about future proofing, Steve says, with Raglan’s population set to increase. Seasonal fluctuations are also large, with the town growing from 5,000 to 25,000 over summer.

“We have grown from 95 tonnes of glass in 2000 to 427 tonnes in 2021. There is currently a subdivision of a further 500 houses and another proposed for 300 houses, so that tonnage will only continue to increase.”

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says he’s eager to see the Centre for Excellence in operation. “One of the GPF’s core objectives is promoting industry best practice for glass recovery and recycling so it’s great to have leaders like Xtreme Zero Waste doing the same,” he says.