WW = Waste Wizards by Vincent
My name is Vinnie and there’s a burning flame of passion in my heart for nature, football, family, friends and live music.
I was born in Tauranga and brought up in Hamilton attending primary at one of NZ's first Enviroschools. That’s me pictured in the middle mid-2002. There I learned about the need to protect the environment and that I could make a difference. I went to Hukanui School and we were so blessed to have a school gully that we could frolic in during lunchtime with our friends. Thanks to the principal and teachers like my Mum, Leyette Callister, Hukanui School is an Enviroschool, so we were given education in the gully from a young age about the importance of native bush and how compost was nature at work/play.
I remember one Environmental Ed teacher, Mrs Tyson, showing us this huge pile of logs, wood, leaves and other plant material in a massive pile in the gully that would eventually, decompose right down. This pile was as big as a tiny house and it was mind-blowing for my ten-year-old mind to comprehend.
Picture: That’s me pictured in the middle of the article in mid-2002.
After studying fashion in Dunedin for two years I travelled through the USA for three months. I had some wwoofing experiences that gave me a taste of what I thought at the time was truly sustainable and self-sufficient living. It wasn’t until I came back and settled into Papamoa for a couple of years that I realised that sustainability wasn’t enough. We need to be regenerating!
My crew in the Papamoa Pirate Palace was instrumental in feeding the fire in my heart to be the change we want to see in the world by emitting and instilling permaculture values into a community. Around November 2014 Dave Hursthouse, Chris Anderson, Lily Tworogal and I went and checked out the Papamoa Community Garden and it soon became the centre of our world and the hub of our artichoke hearts.
Photo credit: Chris Lamb
Kiwiburn isn’t like any other of these festivals because of the ten principles. (see https://kiwiburn.com/the-event/culture/guiding-principles/) It gave me the belief and drive to carry on down the zero-waste track. It also gave me a good opportunity to test the system under no obligation or stress but rather collaboration and carnage. (in the best way possible) I owe a lot to my Kiwiburn theme camp ‘The Hangout”.
It was the summer of 2014/15 and I volunteered at the summer Gourmet Night Market in Mt Maunganui as a bin monitor. Kim Renshaw managed the event and its waste system to be one of the leading events in the country for diversion from landfill rates. She inspired me and is a big reason why I ventured down the path of waste minimisation. It led me to volunteer at summer festivals on the zero waste crew at places like Catlins fest, Prana, Off The Radar, Northern the waste station monitors for the season of local summer Thursday night markets, “Dinner in The Domain’ in return for a thousand dollar donation made to the
It was my first taste managing the waste system at an event and even though they had pesky wheelie bins with silly lids, Bass, I remember back to October 2015 and I'd been doing a lot of bin monitoring for “the Little Big Markets” crew. I remember volunteering to manage I grew lots from it. I was able to take compostable event waste to the garden compost and nurture it through its decomposition. Bay Dreams, Splore, and Womad where I met people in the festival and waste industry from all over the country and world.
Photo: Callum and I obtained a yield from “The Rock” Papamoa Community Garden.
I eventually left this incredibly lush community & lifestyle in March 2016 to visit family in Australia. Here I saved money by washing dishes to visit Japan, Taiwan, Myanmar, and Thailand. I came back from my travels to the Bay of Plenty truly inspired to make a difference in the world of waste. Realising how pristine it is here compared to what I had seen on my travels further fuelled my inner flame for change. I made a ten-year plan to create a culture of zero waste. Eventually, this goal broadened into wanting Waste Wizards to be operating globally after first proving effective in my community, city, region, and country.
In Japan, I visited Kamikatsu, the Zero Waste town with 60 different waste streams. The people of the town showed how it was actually possible to change their habits so as not to produce waste and had innovative schemes such as collecting the waste for elderly residents and having a “free” op shop where they weigh and record the diversion from landfill.
Photo: This is also where I saw electronic compost machines with moisture scales and automatic interior turning arms for the first time. Classic Japan.
I’ve always had a love for events and music festivals and the best way to go to them all on a budget is to volunteer. It wasn’t long before I grew frustrated with the vast amount of design needs the wheelie bin failed to meet in the search to minimise waste efficiently.
When I got a job in March 2017 at Baytex, I was really disappointed to see the huge volumes of waste being sent to landfill. Not just any waste but offcuts of the highest quality PVC marquee fabric available. My house was filled up with scraps saved from the work bin and it became hard to manage, I couldn't make use of it quickly enough. It inspired me to work in my breaks, and after work. It is in these times working by myself after work in an empty factory floor that I came up with the first few prototypes for the WW bag. It was during this period of trial and error that I realised, plastics have a place. There are some
characteristics of plastics that are almost irreplaceable.
Nothing more evident than how long it lasts in our environment.
This is justifiably demonised and viewed as its worst quality based on the vast amounts of plastic pollution throughout the Earth’s land and ocean. If users and designers change their perspective of plastic, it can be its best quality. The Ministry for the Environment’s product stewardship scheme aims to start a bottle deposit scheme to raise money for recycling. It might be a necessary next step, but it misses the point. We shouldn’t be using plastic for these products that last for such a short time in the customers' hands before it’s discarded. We need to only use plastic for things we want to last forever, for things where it is absolutely necessary to use plastic and can show it can be put in a local circular economy. I want the WW bags to last forever so they can be reused. This will prevent countless single-use bin liners from use. Transparency is such a crucial aspect to the design that I can’t replace with anything organic. If there was a natural alternative, it would be more susceptible to natural degradation agents. I first tested them at an event on the Strand, Tauranga. I was then lucky enough to get my foot in the door at the Gourmet Night Market, Mt Maunganui to really test them out.
It went really well. Photo Above: The first prototype @ Winter Nights, Winter Lights fest.
Photo: Second prototype - signage created to be interchangeable and in line with the nationally standardised colours for recycling and waste.
Photo: Third prototype - signage made bigger to be seen from further away so users can make their mind up before they get to the bin.
Picture from Gourmet Night Market, Coronation Park, Mount Maunganui December 2017
In early March 2018, I sustained a knee injury playing football and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. 3 months paid leave to recover from surgery and the opportunity to apply for funding to make more bags and make them better. After applying to eight funds, seven unsuccessfully, my application to the Tauranga City Council’s Resource Wise fund was successful. They awarded me $9700 to improve and manufacture the WW bags to increase the capacity of events Waste Wizards could service. I was so encouraged by this win and owe a lot to the TCC for giving me that funding boost (See pictures below for the improved bin system). The Waste Wizards bins were born out from a mix of rescued industrial resources and a vision for an easier way to separate and minimize waste.
They far outperform wheelie bins for the following reasons:
- Transparency allows for easier understanding of correct waste stream contents
- Bins collapsible into a roll the size of your arm so bin systems can be transported in cars instead of massive trucks for cumbersome wheelie bins
- Allows the waste manager to sort waste on-site to heavily reduce secondary event waste contamination checking (standard practice with wheelie bin waste minimisation)
- Reusable and washable nature of bags prevent tens of thousands of single-use bin liners from being used/wasted on holding (usually other single-use) trash
- Bin systems are fully customisable, so waste minimisation systems are tailored to an event/school/business needs by selecting the appropriate waste streams
- The WW system does not require bin monitors because it’s really easy for the event waste manager to intermittently check the bins, quickly sort contamination, then walk away. The general public has the ability to find the correct bin but I find they are at times intimidated by bin monitors and can act to avoid them
- The bags make it easy to weigh the contents in order to table data. This helps us tell a story and make improvements next time. It can help us mitigate waste before it’s created.
Waste Wizards enables me to connect my love of music and creative events with a positive way to teach people how to separate their wastes while diverting needless waste from the landfill. By making bags from industrial waste, they are a diversion in themselves, while reaching a wide audience to start changing habits. I’ve found behaviour change comes with a user-based design that meets the user halfway to the problem. I aim to facilitate the user’s laziness (because I am also lazy) to bring the waste to the correct bin while leaving them to their own devices when choosing which waste stream their particular item/s belongs to. This process allows people to educate themselves instead of someone trying to convince them.
WW has been providing services to events in the Bay of Plenty for three years now and this summer, have had success extending our market reach to Auckland by slashing trash at Shipwrecked Festival near Mangawhai and at Cross St Festival in the Auckland CBD. By the end of the next event season.
WW plans to expand through Auckland and Hamilton. Then Wellington by 2022 and the South Island by 2024.
At present a school is trialling the wizard bags to support the students in their understanding of diverting and managing their wastes. My goal for 2020 is for 75% of the schools in the Howick local board area to implement zero waste practices using this system. Beyond East Auckland, there are over 400 more schools in Auckland to target.
WW aims to divert 80% of waste from school’s landfill skips by having more waste wizard bins than wheelie bins in Auckland by 2027.
WW is not yet in businesses but is very close to it. Prototyping needs to be completed on the lid so the smell can be contained indoors. In the introductory period of having bins in businesses, places like office spaces will be targeted to collect priority items like paper, cardboard, soft plastic, plastic 1,2 & 5 and E-waste.
WW aims to sign up 30 businesses by 2022 to collect 95% of their targeted recycled goods annually.
Recommending worm farm hires from my bro Leo Murray @ Why Waste is another highly impactful way for office spaces to reduce the waste they send to landfill. Leo has been nothing but supportive since I established Waste Wizards that in a sense, became a direct competitor to Why Waste. Thanks bro. I also need to make a special mention to Nick Russell who’s been my biggest business support person through all of this. It's so valuable to bounce business thoughts around with someone so knowledgeable, pragmatic and honest.
And also, a special mention to Sam Persnikie for the graphic design of my signage and branding. I stayed with Sam in Taiwan during my Asia trip and he was a big part of supporting my inspiration to start the waste wizards’ journey.
Special mention for my homies Cam Ryan and Emma Morris for being at the forefront of my support crew joined by Phoenix, Yames, Chodo and Bear from the Ski Haus as well as Chris, Lily and Dave from the Papamoa Pirate Palace. And of course, my parents Paul and Leyette.
The most important thing I can do is to encourage people to reduce and refuse waste. Mitigating waste before it is a problem is an effective way towards zero waste. For Waste Wizards, composting and recycling are how we divert waste away from landfill.
My vision for recycling is for facilities to be locally accessible so residents can be incentivised to sort trash at their house and walk/ride/drive a short distance to drop off sorted items. Ideally, each centre would have the ability to recycle and process items on site but due to H&S, economies of scale and the current economic inviability of recycling, it’d be something we’d need to graduate to in maybe 20-30 years with loads of investment into machinery and expertise. The next step up after local recycling centres are established would be for each centre to specialise in recycling a certain item type so in one region alone, all waste types have a place where they can get repurposed or recycled ready to be pumped back into the local economy. Local circular economies need to be the goal of every city and its people moving forward.
What better time than now to leverage such measures. Councils in NZ are aiming for Zero Waste in the next twenty years, but we are a long way off and if multinational trucking and landfill companies are allowed to continue with the status quo, then we’re in for a hell of a fight. When their bottom line is landfill, they’re sure as heck not incentivised to divert it.
Let’s start a new story. One where the linear lifetime of a product is phased out and local circular economies become the norm. A story where local enterprises can profit from recycled products made by local community resource hubs. One where residents can walk their trash down the road and see the transition from waste to enriched item before their eyes. It’s possible and it's within reaching distance but we need to reach out, together, as one and pull the solutions of a more waste-conscious tomorrow into our backyard.
Please contact me for any reason, because if it’s not sensible or productive, it’s trash talk. I don't mind a bit of trash talk here and there. In fact, balance is key. Stay safe and sane everybody! And remember that no amount of sanitiser can help with insanity.
Hanga Hitori Motu Koreutu
Make Zero Waste History
Written by Vinny from Waste Wizzard (pictured below)
(Above &) Below Photos: Fourth prototype - New bin design and signage @ The Papamoa Fun Run 2018