Plastic from landfill polluting Owhiro Stream
June 27, 2019
Owhiro Stream in Happy Valley is polluted with light plastic coming from a city council-maintained landfill nearby.
Friends of Owhiro Stream co-ordinator Martin Payne said light plastic was one of the most common waste found in the stream. “What we see is quite a lot of soft plastic and polystyrene in the stream, which is particularly bad after a heavy rain fall.”
He said most plastic would be coming from the council landfill as that was where everyday waste went. However, the C & D and T & T landfills were construction sites so might also be contributing.
Although it was likely to be a big contributor, it was not likely to be the only one. He said because Wellington was windy, it might also have blown off rubbish trucks. The plastic surrounding the landfill would sit in the bushes until the rain washed it into the stream.
Resident Vic Reid, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said, “Whenever I’m down there, I can pick up a shopping bag easily.” It was commonly plastic bags and polystyrene she would see in the stream. She said the plastic was light and “breaks down into balls.”
She knew she wasn’t the only one and would often see others in the area who picked up rubbish. “At the moment, we’re very reliant on random citizens [to clean up the rubbish].”
Council waste operations manager Emily Taylor-Hall said it had a fence at the tipping area of the landfill and there were regular clean-ups at Owhiro Stream. “I am confident that this minimises any litter entering the stream.”
The extension of the landfill would be beneficial as it planned to include additional infrastructure to prevent soft plastics blowing out.
She believed that each landfill operator was responsible for cleaning up their rubbish. If it was coming from the council landfill, its operational contractors would clean it up. However, she said they might have picked up waste from one of the other landfills in their clean-ups.
City Councillor Iona Pannett said the issue was too much soft plastic being dumped. “We don’t want plastic bags in the landfill.” She was the only city council member to oppose the extension of the landfill. As 27% of all waste is organic material, she would like to see more effort put into reusing that waste.