Community-owned business encourages Aucklanders to trade waste for wisdom

An Auckland community-owned business is letting people exchange their waste for wisdom.

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Snells Beach locals have taken over the local refuse centre. Source: Seven Sharp

The Mahurangi Wastebusters in Auckland’s Rodney is focused on diverting as much waste as possible from landfill. It was established in 2017 after demand increased among locals wanting alternatives to sending their waste to landfill.

Director Matthew Luxton said the business aimed to reduce their rubbish to landfill by 50 percent this year. They have plans to increase this to 65 percent next year, and 70 percent the year after.

Locals come to their Lawrie Road site in Snells Beach to drop their waste for advice.

“We just talk to folk about what’s happening with their waste — where it’s going, what else they could be doing,” he said.

“A whole bunch of New Zealanders are saying, actually, no we’re gonna need to do things differently to how we’ve done it.

“What we are trying to do is take this on a journey to make this a resource recovery centre so that the resources stay here and they’re used by this community.”

Every scrap that can be is sorted for a second life, with some of the best items sent straight to an on-site second-hand shop.

Alongside seven staff, dozens of locals often volunteer to help out.

In December last year, the Wastebusters partnered with social enterprise Localised Limited, owned by the Zero Waste Network, to establish Mahurangi Wastebusters Ltd.

It allowed the Wastebusters to tender for a contract with Auckland Council to run their services at its Lawrie Road and Rustybrook Road sites.

“When we won the contract, we had to power up and buy a whole lot of kit. So, like any other business, we got loans,” Mr Luxton said.

“For us, our loans came locally. So we’ve had some local residents who believed in what we’re doing and they’ve put up the money.”

All of the business’ profits go back into the community and the environment.

They currently accept waste from residential and small business customers.