Glass off roads and footpaths

21 10 2011

As a commuter cyclist I share the frustration of UPSET CYCLIST (18 October) about the amount of broken glass on our city roads and as a parent and neighbour I’ve seen too many local kids with cut feet from glass on footpaths and verges.

We know it is almost exclusively intoxicated people who drop or throw their empty bottles while walking to or from a drinking session. Fines rarely work because few residents who care are on the streets late at night to catch the offenders. More rubbish or recycling bins would also be fairly ineffective as being a tidy Kiwi is usually the last thing on the drinker’s mind.

RTDs being sold only in plastic bottles could be something we ask council staff to work on with other councils, central government, producers and local outlets.

Littering issues are a big part of what Gisborne District Council’s environmental health educator teaches school students, with recycling being promoted as the best alternative. Nurturing in young children a sense of responsibility for keeping our home and wider community clean is a challenge but not impossible.

If broken glass is reported to Council it enters the Request for Service system and is picked up by a contractor. It would be great if all of us could commit to checking our street on Sundays as paying someone to drive across town to pick up one bottle doesn’t make much sense.

New Plymouth District Council has a very successful Community Champions (CC) programme. A Community Liaison Officer supports volunteers who are constantly working their magic around the district picking up rubbish and credits these CCs for helping to prevent broken glass in their public places and on roads. The programme is thriving – initially with a goal to get 25 CCs it now boasts 88 and the number continues to grow. NPDC liquor bylaws also prevent liquor being consumed in a number of public places beyond the CBD and within six months of coming into place, are credited with reducing the amount of glass litter by 34%.

Returning empty beverage containers for recycling and reuse has become a way of life for South Australians, resulting in the state being known as the cleanest and tidiest in Australia. The container deposit legislation (CDL) is said to enjoy overwhelming public and community support. For over 30 years, South Australia was the only state or territory in Australia with container deposit legislation. However in 2010 the Northern Territory Government announced plans to implement its own scheme by the end of 2011. Based on the South Australian model, it will be a 10-cent refund for containers, similar to those covered by SA’s legislation. This is another option we could look at with central government and producers.

Picking up glass is something people with court ordered community hours could do for the community. They would have to be supervised but this would only need to be checking the areas were clean.

Keep Gisborne Beautiful has done some great work in particularly problem spots and along with GDC and Tairāwhiti Environment Centre the organisations are looking at ways to expand KGB initiatives – the New Plymouth scheme will be part of these discussions, so anyone interested with ideas or keen to volunteer can contact Council.

If all of the above fails, someone suggested to me that, like the tagging wall idea, we establish a space to legitimately take glass to smash it for therapeutic purposes as they have in some factories overseas!

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