A Hauraki community group on a mission has received a unanimous thumbs-up from the Council for a business case to open a reuse centre in the district.
The proposal was made at the Council’s meeting last week. No request was made for funding, but it was acknowledged this would most likely be on the cards in future.
Paeroa Ward Chair Paul Milner says the best projects are always community driven and this one ticks a lot of environmental, social, and economic boxes.
“There was a real buzz in the Chambers. This is the kind of stuff we love to support and the reason most of us put our hand up to be councillors in the first place. There was no hesitation at all from anyone to put their hand up and vote yes to this.”
The proposed centre would be similar to the Seagull Centre in Thames, which is a non-profit organisation that educates and empowers the community to reduce waste.
Hauraki Reuse Group spokesperson Alli Mitchell says the Hauraki reuse centre will be a locally-owned community facility providing employment, education and a place where people can donate their unwanted but usable items to be sold and reused.
“We’ve done a lot of research and visited a lot of other reuse centres which are self-funding, social enterprises focused on reducing waste to landfill and teaching sustainable life skills like composting and sewing,” she says.
“We see an overwhelming need for a centre like this in the Hauraki District.”
Seagull Centre business manager Rick Brown has offered to share the Thames-based centre’s business model and provide mentoring to help the Hauraki group find its wings and get off the ground.
“We’re confident that with their (Seagull Centre) plan and mentoring we will build a successful social enterprise that Hauraki can be proud of,” says Alli.
The concept also has the support of Smart Environmental managing director Grahame Christian. The company is contracted to manage kerbside refuse and recycling and Refuse Transfer Stations for Eastern Waikato councils, including Hauraki District.
“This is something we have advocated some years ago, and we are happy to support it. We have something similar with Coromandel Independent Living Trust and this is now working very well,” he says.
Waihi Ward Councillor Duncan Smeaton, who is Council’s solid waste portfolio holder, says the proposed centre will be located at the Paeroa Transfer Station site in Grey Street because of its available space and central location. In future it’s envisaged the business plan will expand to include reuse centres in Waihi and Ngatea.
He says the concept aligns perfectly with the vision of the Eastern Waikato Council Waste Management and Minimisation Plan which is to minimise waste to landfill and maximise community benefit.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but Councillor Milner and myself will continue to work with the group and provide support where we can. We’re impressed with the work they’ve put into this so far, and we’ll be gliding right alongside them as things take flight.”
Part of the group’s business plan is to run a competition for the community to name the new centre. Residents are being asked to get brainstorming potential names.