Recycling belief changed attitudes

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 12:56 12/12/2012
John Ransley
Emma Dangerfield

Complete cycle: John Ransley, right, is congratulated by Innovative Waste Kaikoura (IWK) manager Robbie Roche for his recent acknowledgement as part of New Zealand’s Community Recycling Network (CRN). Robbie worked for John when he was IWK manager.

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A pioneer of local recycling efforts has been acknowledged for his commitment on a national level.

John Ransley, commercial fisherman turned recycling professional, was awarded membership to the New Zealand Community Recycling Network (CRN) at its annual hui last month, for his services to the organisation which he helped to set up.

John's introduction to recycling services began locally, when he was appointed manager of Kaikoura Wastebusters, the predecessor of Innovative Waste Kaikoura.

At that time the operation had three Taskforce workers, a small recycling shed, a shovel, spade, rake and wheelbarrow - until, says John, someone broke in and stole the shovel, reducing their tool resources by 25 per cent!

When the landfill management contract came up in July 2000, Wastebusters won the contract, and formed a partnership with the Kaikoura District Council, to create Innovative Waste Kaikoura.

John remained at the helm for the next five years and in that time oversaw a number of recycling initiatives which put Kaikoura on the map.

The Trees for Travellers scheme was established and with that a youth workforce with which to tackle the heavy work. Current IWK manager Robbie Roche was appointed by John to head the youth team, which ran for about two years.

In that time they worked on projects which included building Tom's Track from scratch, as well as rebuilding much of Dempsey's Track.

"We were really quite proud of what we achieved with that youth team," recalls John. "It was all part of our philosophy really, trying to recycle kids . . . we had a good success rate and it's great to see these people now walking around town with jobs and their own kids."

Other new trials followed at the Scarborough St site, including composting demonstrations, worm-farming and even a world first, the establishment of a zero waste academy, run by John for about three years. Courses were held in the site's zero-waste funded building.

"We taught people how to recycle and how to run a medium-sized business, explaining GST, payroll systems, health and safety, things that these people had perhaps never had training in."

People from all over New Zealand made use of the courses, he says, and some of those are now part of the New Zealand Community Recycling Network (CRN), an organisation John is still passionate about. It is made up of representatives from communities working towards zero waste, including, of course, IWK.

Since the first Zero Waste conference was held in Kaikoura in 1999, a hui has been held almost each year, bringing together community groups involved in recycling, reuse, composting, waste reduction and waste education. CRN came out of one of these hui and John was appointed as one of four trust members.

"A group of us started it as an organisation to represent us at Government level, as well as to give us a national voice. That's really how it came about."

At the CRN hui in Wellington last month, attended by Minister for the Environment Amy Adams, John was awarded his membership certificate.

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Fellow CRN trustee Cliff Colquhoun said on Monday that John had been chosen for the trust because he would fight absolutely to maintain the kaupapa of CRN.

"He has got the disease called ‘community enterprise'," he said. "It's not just about recycling, John could see the importance of community enterprise, he could see the bigger picture - that the private, public and community sectors all need to flourish. He understood that completely."

Not only could John see the bigger picture, he was also a hands-on man who could link his vision to practical experience, said Mr Colquhoun. People like John in a handful of small communities around New Zealand were the ones who had proved to the rest of the country that recycling was in fact financially viable, and created jobs in the process, he said.

- Kaikoura Star

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