Waste audit in progress.
Landcare Research’s goal is ‘no avoidable waste to landfill by 2020’ and until 2016 progress towards this goal was measured through our 6-monthly waste audits. As our GHG emissions from waste now represent less than 1% of our total emission we now monitor our waste to landfill via the waste collection reports we receive from our service providers.
At Dunedin, food and other compostable waste goes to an on–site worm farm, or to a compost bin destined for the garden. At Lincoln, our largest site, compostables previously went to our worm farm; however we now take advantage of the local Selwyn District Council collection and put out just one green bin weekly for collection. SDC then takes this compostable waste to the local Pines Resource Recovery Park where it is put through a hot-rot process before being sold back to the public as garden compost. At our Auckland and Hamilton sites, food and garden waste are added to the compost bins to be later spread on the gardens. Palmerston North have installed compost bins in their newly completed outdoor area, replacing the organic waste bins used previously. The site staff are going to look after the new planter boxes as a community garden.
Our Computer Support Systems Team has a strong focus on ‘Keeping IT green’. As computers are upgraded and replaced, we donate old operational PCs to educational or community organisations, or they are sold to staff at a heavily discounted rate. Of those remaining for disposal, 90% go to New Zealand recycling organisations such as Molten Media (a Christchurch Community Trust) who then donate them to charitable organisations, and The Ark (Auckland).
All of our old mobile phones are returned to our supplier for recycling, as are our print and copier cartridges.
Paper use data covers all paper including photocopier and printer paper, and paper from our office consumables and printed materials suppliers.
Very little of our recyclable paper ends up in the general waste stream.
In 2016, the CRIs renewed their pan-CRI contract with Interwaste. The company now collects hazardous waste from our five sites with laboratories. Our two largest sites (Auckland and Lincoln) have several biological laboratories and containment facilities, which generate the most waste categorised as hazardous. This may include:
- Biological waste (e.g., dead autopsied animals, microbial cultures and quarantined biological material from the containment facilities in Auckland and Lincoln)
- Chemical waste (e.g., flammables, solvents, corrosives)
- Sharps (e.g., scalpel blades, needles and broken glass)
- Vertebrate toxic agents
Interwaste provide us with monthly data on the amounts and nature of waste they collect. However >90% of the waste is not actually ‘hazardous’ but has simply been used in a laboratory with a containment designation. Petrie dishes, culture media and other equipment have to be discarded as hazardous waste, irrespective of whether it has been in contact or not with something contaminated. For example, one of our Auckland laboratories must continually plate up new cultures for research and to deliver cultures and various services to clients. The more work is undertaken, the more waste produced. The same applies to any equipment and materials in the Beever Plant Pathogen Containment Facility, and the biological laboratories and containment facility at our Lincoln site.
Interwaste autoclave medical waste and sharps at their MPI-approved facilities before disposing of it in approved Class A sanitary landfills. Chemical and cytotoxic waste is collected, handled, transported and disposed of in accordance with national and international regulations and permits.
Our cytotoxic waste is the only category that needs to be disposed of off-shore (Australia).