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Published: 2004-11-26 00:00:00

Free waste and cleaner production audits by a new Waste Advisory Service are helping Waikato businesses save money, this month’s Environment Waikato Environment Committee meeting heard.

The independent service has been set up in partnership between Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council and Hauraki, Matamata Piako, South Waikato and Taupo District Councils. Environment Waikato Community Education Facilitator Felicity Fahy said the service was designed to help businesses minimise waste and increase profitability.

Business waste accounted for about half of all waste sent to landfills, she said. The Regional Waste Strategy, developed in 2002/03 outlined how Environment Waikato would work with territorial authorities and local communities to implement the national waste strategy produced by the Ministry for the Environment.

Co-ordinating a Regional approach was important as it provided opportunities for councils and the community to share information and work together on joint waste projects.

Focus groups were run in several Hamilton commercial businesses, asking about their waste and what concerned them, she said. The Waste Advisory Service provided a hands-on, confidential, business-friendly approach offering waste and cleaner production audits. Brief waste minimisation and cleaner production plans were prepared, including prompts and reminders for each business.

The key objectives were to integrate these practices into businesses and link to all other waste initiatives such as the Waste Exchange, Waikato Environmental Business Network and Sustainable Business Network. Waste diversion and cleaner production initiatives were also recorded for promotion.

The service used the Waste Exchange’s 0800 NO THROW number and was linked with Environment Waikato staff working in regulatory roles to help identify recurring issues or companies having difficulties dealing with waste. Links with councils were also important and other councils were likely to become involved when the results of the first year were released next year.

Ms Fahy said the independent practical approach of the service would help increase profitability as well as decreasing the amount of waste going to landfill. It also expanded the work of the Waste Exchange and enabled a more proactive approach to working with businesses as a complement to other Resource Management Act responses.

Committee Chairman Paula Southgate said the Council supported businesses taking responsibility for their waste.