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Come on Welli, take a plastic safari

Local residents and community groups are invited to take a tour of the city’s Southern Landfill to see the effects of discarded plastics at close range.

The Wellington City Council is reinforcing its commitment to Plastic Free July with the return of its Bags in the Wild landfill tour, following a positive public response for last year’s inaugural event.

Tours of the Happy Valley site are promised to be “suitably frightening”, according to Waste Minimisation Manager Meagan Miller.

“In essence it’s a safari, but instead of animals in the wild you’ll get to see plastics that have sat amongst surrounding native bush since the 1970s.”

Systems are in place to try to contain flying litter but Miller says that the combination of lightweight single-use plastic bags and other plastics combined with Wellington’s winds means it is difficult to stop all plastics escaping the landfill.

When they get into the surrounding environment they can threaten native birds such as pukeko and kereru as well as polluting nearby streams.

New Zealanders use around 1.6 billion plastic bags a year and it’s estimated that each one is used for an average of 12 minutes before entering the waste stream.

Every year, the Wellington region’s three landfills take in around 35,000 tonnes of plastics, which equates to about 69kg of unrecyclable plastics per person.

“We are fairly confident that no Wellingtonian would be happy knowing this is what is happening as a result of their everyday purchases and life choices.,” said Miller. “We hope these tours will help to educate and influence future life choices.”

The Bags in the Wild tour is suitable for adults and supervised children including school groups and community groups.

Tours can be booked by emailing [email protected] or calling 04 383 4442.