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Mayor cuts green ribbon to open new recycling centre

11 December 2013

The Green ribbon was cut today by Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Glenn Leach and Smart Environment General Manager Grahame Christian to officially open the Materials Recovery Facility in Kopu.

The MRF shares the same site as the Carter Holt Harvey mill on Ngati Maru Highway. The MRF receives all of the recycled materials from the new Kerbside wheelie bin recycling collection, which started in October.

The facility is part of the Kerbside recycling contract for Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki and Matamata-Piako District Councils, which has been awarded to Smart Environmental (Smart) for 10 year

Through an automated and manual process the recyclables are sorted into their types and grades and sent off to local markets. The recyclables are sold locally or internationally, as an example paper and cardboard is sent to Carter Holt Harvey for reprocessing at different plants to be recycled back into newsprint and cardboard.

Steel cans are processed at Sims Pacific metals in Auckland, glass is sent to OI in Auckland to be recycled into new glass and products such as Coke bottles are sent to China and could return as Hi-Viz vests.

The facility will employ more than ten people and will gear up to double that number during peak periods. There is also several administration and management staff. These are new jobs and Smart Environment hopes that this is just the start of new initiatives that will see further jobs and opportunities created.

The revenue to the company over that term for both contracts will be in the area of $80m. Almost all of that money will be spent in the local community.

As a New Zealand owned company, Smart Environmental ensures that it operates on a local basis. It has few national deals and prefers to operate locally, procuring people, plant and services locally.

“We understand the importance of sourcing locally and how this provides new jobs, and introduces money into the local economy, one dollar that leaves the region does not come back, a dollar spent circulates between 4 and 6 times," says Smart’s Managing Director, Grahame Christian, a local himself and born in Thames.

"We have spent nearly $9m dollars in plant and equipment for this contract and a further $1m on new equipment for the Parks and Reserves contract," says Mr Christian.  "We also spend many millions of dollars in the district, the times multiplier effect will justify the reasons why Councils have selected us as their ongoing service provider. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity," he says.

The new collections in wheelie bins has seen a nearly 30% increase in volumes of recycling by weight and a commensurate reduction in waste to landfill.

"We anticipate that the volume of recyclables will reach 10,000 tonnes per annum," says Mr Christian. "So as the tonnes increase so will the jobs required to process them.

"We are asking ratepayers and users to embrace the opportunity to reduce waste to landfill and to create new jobs," says Mayor Leach.

Mr Christian who is also a member of the newly formed Thames-Coromandel District Council Economic Development Agency says he is buoyed by Council's support and focus into economic development.

“I have a business with a national footprint, I work and travel throughout New Zealand and deal with nearly all of the Local Bodies," says Mr Christian. 

"This Council is an inspiration in the way that it looks forward and seeks to develop its local economy and is working to stop the drift away from rural areas to the big cities and to provide a buoyant and exciting region in which to live and work," he says.

"This will take time and needs engagement and positive feedback, I am excited about any role I have to play in one of the country’s most visionary organisations," says Mr Christian.

Smart has also signed a further eight-year term for the Parks and Reserves for Thames-Coromandel District Council. Smart has held the Parks and Reserve contract for TCDC for nearly 18 years and the Council's refuse and recycling contract for 11 years after acquiring the failing Onyx business.