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From dreams to reality at Whitianga Refuse Station

In August 2020, a small group of environmentally conscious locals met to discuss the viability of establishing a community resource recovery facility on the new Whitianga Refuse Transfer Station site. The call to action was prompted by discussions between the Whitianga Residents & Ratepayers Association and Manus Pretorius, General Manager of the Seagull Centre. As a result, the Mercury Bay Resource Recovery Centre Trust (MBRRCT) was formed.

Once the Trustees completed the initial formalities, they spent the next year working on securing funding from the Ministry for the Environments’ Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF). In addition, a close working relationship has been forged with the Seagull Centre in Thames and Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC).

The MBRRCT are thrilled to announce that the funding application has been successful. The WMF will contribute $250,000 towards infrastructure, plant, and equipment to enable MBRRCT to develop the Moewai Road site. This includes establishing basic infrastructure for sorting incoming waste, a building construction and demolition waste processing facility, and a retail facility for general goods.

A memorandum of understanding and lease is now in place with TCDC, who are contributing towards roading, drainage, and parking for the Whitianga Refuse Transfer Station and establishing a working platform for the Centre. “This gives us a home and the means to operate,” says Len Salt, MBRRCT Chair. “We are a grassroots community organisation, dependent on relationships founded on trust, collaboration and inclusion. So, it is gratifying and exciting to gain the sponsorship and commitment of key partners.”

Mercury Bay Community Board Chair Rekha Giri-Percival says, “The Community Board is very excited that, with this grant, we will soon see more material that would have gone to landfill be recovered and put to good use within the community.”

The Centre is being modeled on the Seagull Centre in Thames, which has provided significant resources to date. The MBRRCT aims to reduce the volume of reusable and recyclable products sent to landfill whilst providing local jobs and affordable goods to the community. The Trustees will also continue to drive waste awareness and minimisation initiatives in the community.

It’s an ambitious vision, and now that the solid foundation is in place, the focus will be on the site’s development, establishing viable and sustainable operations, and initiating a number of resource recovery-oriented projects, with a tentative opening date in Februrary/March 2023.

“With this project now entering a new, dynamic phase, the Trustees are looking for volunteers to join the Trust to assist in this exciting development,” says Tracey Bell, MBRRCT Trustee. “We require as many hands to the pump as possible and a wide array of skills. While specific knowledge and experience in these areas will be highly prized, you don’t have to be an expert to join the MBRRCT volunteer collective. If you are passionate about the environment and enthusiastic about driving change in our community, we would love to hear from you.”

MBRRCT would like to express their deepest gratitude to the Ministry for the Environment, TCDC, and the Seagull Centre for their continued support. To stay up to date with our progress or to join the team, email or follow us on Facebook @mercurybayresourcerecoverycentre.

Image Credit: Hauraki Repair & Reuse Centre.

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