SIFT’s Chair Darren Patterson has some interesting insights to offer on waste minimisation and SIFT’s role supporting innovative Cantabrians with ideas on how to reduce waste.
Interviewing Darren has provided a great opportunity to tap in on his in-depth knowledge of waste minimisation and learn more about SIFT and its role within the community.
Firstly why is waste minimisation important? Darren says waste is a direct indication of how efficient a system is. The more waste, the greater the inefficiency and hence alarm bells should go off to look into how improvements can be made. He also believes waste isn’t something you only consider come rubbish day. Rather it’s about actively thinking about how we can be more sustainable. So let’s take on the challenge of finding better ways of doing things around work and home.
Darren’s career started twenty years ago in the UK remediating research facilities, closed landfills and contaminated sites as well as managing hazardous wastes. He then moved onto enforcement work at a regional council where he saw first-hand the effects of poor waste management and how important it is to responsibly manage, and look to eliminate wastes. Here in Christchurch Darren worked at Environment Canterbury where he developed a team responsible for improving the management of hazardous waste along with implementing hazardous substance education and waste minimisation programmes.
Darren currently has his own consultancy, Patterson Environmental.
So what does SIFT do and how does it relate to waste minimisation? Darren explains SIFT looks to promote waste minimisation projects and encourage entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions to Canterbury’s waste issues. SIFT does this by providing financial assistance to Canterbury based start-ups. For a project to be considered it must meet SIFT’s commitment to its trust deed and applicants need to illustrate they have the skills and commitment to succeed.
With experienced Trustees like Darren, the SIFT board and staff have the knowledge and background to identify potential projects and partners and provide successful candidates with mentoring advice on areas including business plans and marketing strategies.
With the Christchurch rebuild being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Darren says SIFT can contribute positively to the rebuild by supporting initiatives that will reduce the impact of the demolition and construction of the city. With a significant amount of waste being produced from the earthquakes, Darren says there is a real opportunity to rethink the way things are done, to work smarter and to reduce and or divert waste to more beneficial uses.
On an everyday level Darren says Christchurch residents can contribute to reducing waste by using the council green and yellow bins correctly. By doing so we will reduce landfill leachates and greenhouse gas emissions. Use your green bin for food scraps and garden waste and your yellow bin for recyclable items. When you add non recyclable material to your yellow bin you risk contaminating the recyclables. This needs to be sorted by hand and if it’s too contaminated recyclables are sent to landfill, at a cost to the rate payer.
Other ways suggested by Darren to make your home more sustainable is to insulate. That’s top of his list along with repairing items rather than replacing them. This is easier said than done especially as we live in a time when it can cost more to repair broken goods than replace. One tool we have is the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). The CGA along with a number of other requirements says that goods must be durable. So if an item has failed within a certain period (for most household goods this is much longer than the standard one year warranty) then the retailer has a responsibility to repair or replace it. The replacement doesn’t stop the waste being produced but the cost goes back to the manufacturer, therefore encouraging them to produce better quality goods. For more information on your rights check out the Consumer website.