Today marks the first day of a new government mandated ban on single use plastic bags. It's been a while since the supermarkets phased them out and everyone has adapted, even if remembering the reusable bags is a challenge! However plastic bags only represent a very small amount (~0.01% ) of the 1.6 million tonnes rubbish that ends up in landfill every year and while I fully support the end of single use plastic bags, we’ve got a lot more to do.
There’s definitely an appetite to do more for the environment. Over the weekend we had a number of events focused on the environment with Howick holding its first Ecoday event on Saturday, followed by tree planting with Macleans College and then Bucklands Beach clean up on Sunday with the Howick Youth Council. All events were well attended showing the keen interest that East Aucklanders have for our environment which is great.
It’s fantastic to see that locals are keen but we need urgent action by council or our efforts are at risk of being washed away.
We need to invest heavily into water infrastructure to reduce flooding and pollution. The pipes in the older parts of East Auckland such as Howick, Pakuranga and Cockle Bay are struggling to cope with current demand, with overflows not uncommon. As housing continues to intensify, we urgently need to ensure we can meet current and future demands. The work being done to understand the current network is good but needs to be done across the region and much faster.
Last month Auckland Council declared an climate emergency which was another great start but we urgently need action. This means reducing our emissions and for Auckland 40% of these come from transport. While the transition to electric vehicles will help, we cannot all fit on the road. Public transport and active modes such as cycling and walking are essential to reducing our impact on the environment. But they need to be realistic options - reliable, affordable and accessible. Projects like the Eastern Busway can help transform our area, but much more needs to happen to ensure it delivers for more.
I’m pleased to see that soft plastic recycling is back and the government is investing $40m into waste minimisation innovation but we need to do more to reduce the waste being generated in the first place. Strong product stewardship is key to this, ensuring that those producing the waste are required to ensure it’s sensible disposal. We all have personal responsibility but we also need industry to get up to speed.
I want to see a council that leads the way, supporting local community efforts across the city backed up by meaningful action by Council that will ensure that our environment is looked after for future generations.