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Ashburton Wastebusters originated in 1994 as a volunteer initiative to educate school children in the importance of reducing waste and recycling. In 1996 it received a $12,000 donation from The Tindall Foundation to support its role in the Zero Waste Challenge. That backing helped finance Winter Waste Fest workshops and establish the basis for what is now Wastebusters Trust Canterbury.
Anita Coghill, who was one of the group’s founding members and now serves as a trustee, said that the donation “enabled us to move from fledgling community group into a sustainable community enterprise. In other words The Tindall Foundation gave us our wings, and we will always be grateful for that.”
The trust went on to secure contracts from the Ashburton District Council and the Selwyn District Council to deliver the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect programme into all schools in both districts—and to manage the composting, construction and demolition facility of the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park.
Under this arrangement, Wastebusters made high-quality compost from green waste, and sold it back to the community. Its team also collected timber in the construction and demolition areas, diverting this resource from landfill to being shredded and used as mulch for gardens. At its peak, this was generating up to 150 tonnes of materials a month.
Ashburton District Council’s decision not to renew the contracts in 2010 came as a blow, compounded by Environment Canterbury’s withdrawal from the regional Waste Exchange programme. But the Wastebusters team was undaunted— moving quickly to set up a new recycling depot.
Added Tony Dawson, Wastebusters’ second Joint Manager: “We continue to receive green waste at our depot and onsell it to responsible companies to make high-quality compost. We have also set up a successful paper, cardboard and plastics collection service for businesses throughout the CBD, and a rural recycling service for farmers.”
While it lacks the funds to run large projects, Wastebusters has endured by applying its experience to deliver environmental services to the Ashburton and Selwyn districts. Its most recent innovation is the rural recycling programme, launched in April 2014, which sells and services recycling bins for farms, and provides education as part of its collection service.
The founders look back on the donation from The Tindall Foundation as helping catalyse Wastebusters activity. Now, 20 years on, the group can look back with satisfaction at the difference it has made to the Mid-Canterbury environment.
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