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Great Barrier Island ditches public bins in stand against rubbish

Great Barrier Island is taking a stand against rubbish by getting rid of all its rubbish bins - forcing locals and tourists to take responsibility for their trash.

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Both tourists and locals now have to change their ways. Source: Seven Sharp

The simple reason for the push for zero waste? Great Barrier's only rubbish dump is almost full.

"It looks like we've got two and a half to three years left. Then it gets shipped off the island over to the landfill in Auckland," says Brett O'Reilly, who looks after the local upcycling centre.

"To think about the rubbish you are creating is the goal. So think about what's coming to the island, think about what you can do better and thinking about what you can reuse.

"The locals really embraced it as well when we made the initial changes late last year," local board member Izzy Fordham says. 

But paradise attracts people and after a long Waitangi weekend, they're confused.

One visitor told Seven Sharp they had no idea there weren't any bins until after they arrived, with another calling it "frustrating".

Despite the bin ban, the roads and beaches aren't lined with rubbish and the council says there have only been 14 cases of illegal dumping since the start of November - just over one a week.

"People care and people really do want to try to do the right thing," Ms Fordham says.

An education campaign is now in full swing and the hope is if rubbish is harder to get rid of, people will try to avoid making it.