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  • Many communities around Aotearoa have looked at the challenges of rubbish disposal. In Thames, one community organisation has developed its own response to the challenge. In 2004, a group of people established the Seagull Centre, and like the seagulls on their doorstep, they scavenge reusable things from people who are visiting the transfer station to dump the items they no longer want.

    Rights: Anne Barker

    The Seagull Centre

    This recycling and recovery centre in Thames offers affordable second-hand goods to the community, funds local employment and aims to inspire people to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    Putting reuse front and centre

    Thames Coromandel District Council reconfigured the entrance to the transfer station to direct all traffic through the Seagull Centre. This reminds all transfer station users to consider whether their items could be of use to others as they drive in.

    The council recognises that less rubbish going into the pit reduces spending on transport to the landfill. It also helps the environment by enabling many things to be reused.

    Rights: Anne Barker

    Items for resale

    The Seagull Centre encourages people to donate goods rather than sending them to the landfill. The centre reconditions and rejuvenates items so that they can be used again.

    A growing business

    The Seagull Centre is self-funding through the sale of goods – providing affordable items to the community. It has doubled its operations by opening up a workshop where goods can be fixed or upcycled. This space offers training in repair and rejuvenation skills and supports students into work.

    The centre also has a focus on environmental education and management and helping other organisations with goods and funding.

    Related content and activity ideas

    Building Science Concepts: Rubbish has an overview of key science concepts and te ao Māori connections and curates Hub resources in one handy place.

    Waste – a growing challenge! has resources for levels 1–4 of the New Zealand Curriculum on diverting materials from the landfill.

    Material World – Recycling and biodegradability curates Hub resources on these topics, including waste and landfills.

    Useful links

    Find out more about the Seagull Centre.

    Not all your waste has to go to landfill – check out what your local council and/or organisations in your area offer. Here are some examples:

    • Xtreme Zero Waste in Raglan operates on a similar ethos and diverts approximately 75% of waste once destined for the landfill.
    • Mahurangi Wastebusters, based in north Rodney, Auckland, is a social enterprise adding value in the recycling resource recovery industry.
    • Auckland – look for a local a community recycling centre near you.
    • Habitat for Humanity Lincoln Street Reuse Centre in Hamilton diverts items from the landfill, while helping to fund new houses.
    • Second-hand Sunday is an annual event in the Clutha District. It runs as a giant community street swap – residents give their items away!
    • Tip Shop and Recycle Centre, run by Wellington City Council, has the goal of diverting waste from landfill and giving goods a second life at the Tip Shop.
    • EcoDrop recycling centres, located at transfer stations in Christchurch, accept a wide range of items for free that can be reused.

      Published 7 March 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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