Innovative Waste Kaikoura has one of the highest rates in the country for diverting waste from landfills, the Green Party spokeswoman on waste says.
List MP Denise Roche, from Waiheke Island, visited the IWK operation on Saturday. She was last here in 2004 when she was the waste educator on Waiheke.
An MP since 2011, Ms Roche said she had visited a lot of community recycling plants around the country - at Porirua, Kaitaia, Raglan and Wanaka - and was keen to have another look at what IWK was doing.
IWK, a council-controlled organisation, is one of about 10 community recycling organisations in the country and she said it had a very good reputation. Its diversion rate is 76 to 78 per cent which she said was a "fantastic achievement".
"One of the main features of these small operations is that they generate local employment and find local solutions to the waste problem," she said.
"If communities keep control of their waste stream they keep control of jobs.
"For examples, on Waiheke we lost our contract to an Australian company and we went from 27 jobs in the operation to 13 jobs overnight."
IWK employs a core of 11 people but takes on more during summer to cope with the tourist influx.
One of the new operations Ms Roche was keen to see was the glass crusher.
Rob Roche, IWK manager and brother of the MP, said the crushed glass market was promising. The Kaikoura plant produces five grades of crushed glass.
Already IWK sells some to a woman in Christchurch who buys it for garden mulch. Mr Roche said it held moisture in the soil and reflected heat upwards into the plants.
There is also a small market for decorative use, for example in paths, and he hopes to persuade golf clubs to use the finest grade, which is very soft, in bunkers. He has built three bunkers at IWK and plans to invite golfers to try it out.
Ms Roche was also interested in the manual sorting system for separating other recyclables. She said that in Auckland the council had invested millions of dollars in a mechanised sorting system but it had run into problems because the quality of the output was low. "Here, because it's all hand-sorted, the contamination rates are low so the quality is better," she said.
- Kaikoura Star
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