Waste audit results

Every three years, we are required by the Ministry for the Environment to do a Solid Waste Audit. 

This means we open up around 220 rubbish bags from our district, weigh everything, and sort it into over 20 categories. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn about what kinds of waste we generate in Waipā, how much recycling we put in the wheelie bins (and in the rubbish) and overall to get a good idea about our community's waste profile. We don’t advertise to the general public that the waste audit is coming up, as this might change their normal household behaviour - meaning the results would not be accurate.

Isn’t this against the privacy act?

No, solid waste audits do not violate the privacy act. Once rubbish bags and bins are on the kerbside, they are the property of the collection company. We gained permission from the collection companies to collect their rubbish refuse in the audit.

We use this data to guide projects - for example, over the last couple of years we have done a lot of education on reducing food waste in the home, because that is the heaviest weight in our rubbish. Another example of this is supporting early childhood centres to use washable nappies, because we know that nappy and sanitary accounts for about 13 per cent of all the waste we create.

Once we have weighed and recorded the different categories of waste, it continues on its original journey to the final destination - landfill or our local recycling sorting centre.

The 2023 audit on rubbish bags found that Waipā residents throw out almost 9kg of rubbish every week. If you consider that we have around 19,000 households spread across the district – that’s A LOT of trash! (171 tonnes, in fact. Every. Week.)

So what exactly are we tossing in our rubbish bins? Take a look and see what we found.

What did we find?

  • The waste audit found more than half of the items thrown into household wheelie bins and rubbish bags could have been diverted from landfill (e.g. composted or recycled)
  • Food makes up the largest portion of our waste (46.9 per cent), with each household throwing away 4.1kg of food every week
  • Waipā households are throwing 1.2kg of plastic into their rubbish bins each week, or 13.7 per cent of all rubbish thrown out
  • We're chucking 0.5kg of garden waste and organic material in the bin, including items like lawn and shrub clippings, kitty litter and hair. This makes up around 5.7 per cent of all waste. Most of this stuff could be composted at home
  • On average, each household is throwing away 1.12kg of nappies and sanitary items, which makes up 12.8 per cent of residents’ rubbish
  • Paper is also a common item thrown in the rubbish bin, with households throwing away 0.76kg paper every week or 8.6 per cent of all waste
  • And the rest? Each week, residents are throwing away 1.07kg of mixed items like metals, textiles, rubble, glass and hazardous products

How does Waipā compare to the rest of the country?

What’s being thrown into Waipā bins is similar to other parts of the country, according to a nationwide waste audit of 652 houses run by WasteMINZ in 2020. That audit found that the average house put out 8.5kg of rubbish (Waipā is 8.75kg). Another audit run by Love Food Hate Waste in 2018 looked at food specifically. Their report states each household set out 3.15kg of food waste which is similar to our local results (4.11kg).

Download full report