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Source: Auckland Council

Papakura households are composting around 100 tonnes of food scraps each month through the Auckland Council kerbside service. T

The rest of Auckland will receive the service beginning in 2023, so it’s no surprise that Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes for Auckland Council wanted to get a sneak peek of the action now.

He joined the AIMS collectors to experience first-hand what it takes to pick up thousands of households’ food scraps each day. Luckily, his driver was Possum Ross, who’s been driving rubbish trucks for more than 40 years, or as he says, “When I started, we were collecting on a tractor.”

Ian quickly learned just how complicated it is to do a job that the collectors make look easy. Reflecting on his experience collecting the bins for the day, he observed,

“This is a tough job, but they do it well.

“The team is focused on every element of the process to find efficiencies and work together safely. Everything from where to grab the bin, to how to face it when it’s emptied, has been designed to minimise risk and improve customer satisfaction.

“The coordination between the team members means that they can deliver a professional service to households, which is important when you consider that our drivers and runners might see more Aucklanders each day than anyone else from Council does.”

Possum was able to share some of the things he’s noticed having established the first food scraps trial on the North Shore six years ago and then setting up the service in Papakura two years ago.

“Some people truly have zero waste. I will never forget when we visited a household of 18 people, and they didn’t even fill up their rubbish bin each week. They had four kids in nappies, but they were the cloth ones, so their waste was minimal.

“There are folks in Papakura who have been composting already for 30 years in their home garden, so they might not put their food scraps bin out each week, but nothing is going to waste.”

He believes that the best way to minimise waste is to not create it in the first place, sharing, “We need to start with the manufacturers and how they package things.”

Possum likes doing his route during school holidays because even after 40 years of driving, he still enjoys seeing the young kids get inspired by the big trucks and cool technology. Give him a wave the next time you see him in the neighbourhood.