Reducing Waste at Wesley Market

With Auckland Council’s goal to make the city zero waste by 2040, the Puketāpapa Local Board asked for our help to improve how waste is dealt with at Wesley Market. We’ve been working with the market’s organisers, stallholders and shoppers since 2016 to reduce waste to landfill.

About Wesley Market

Located at the Wesley Community Centre, in the heart of Auckland’s Mt Roskill, Wesley Market started in 1994, to give locals a nearby place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. It runs on Tuesdays and Fridays, with stalls selling fresh produce, second-hand clothing and bric-a-brac.

The situation before

Our first job was to understand what types of waste were being created and where it was going.

An audit showed us there were already some good practices underway. A local pig farmer took a lot of the food scraps for his stock and there was some cardboard recycling happening. But the audit also showed market operations were creating around 141kg of waste – that’s about four large (240 litre) wheelie bins of rubbish being sent to landfill every week!

The first step – waste separation

Our first task was to set up separate collection points for various types of waste. By collecting food waste, recycling, compostables and landfill separately, more can be recycled rather than going to landfill.

In just three years, we have helped stallholders divert from landfill 1,500 tonnes of food waste (that’s equal to about 12 blue whales) and 170kg of recyclable items (that’s the weight of two kangaroos).

Food waste – the market’s big issue

As Wesley Market is mainly a fresh produce market, food waste is a big problem. There were lots of spoiled fruit and vegetables going straight to landfill.

Now food scraps that can be eaten by stock are collected by a local farmer, while other food waste is composted for use at our EcoMatters community gardens, or is fed to local chickens.

The plastic bag ban

Even before the single use plastic bag ban began in 2019, plastic waste was an issue we wanted to help stallholders tackle. The market’s site is on the banks of a creek and there were a lot of plastic bags ending up in this waterway.

We were picking up as many littered bags as we could. But with the plastic bag ban on the way, we changed our focus to finding better solutions for stallholders and shoppers. These included:

  • a bag library, with a rotating collection of reusable shopping bags for shoppers to borrow and return
  • using old pillowcases to collect and weigh loose produce, which are then reused for the next shopper
  • 
educating and reminding shoppers about the plastic bag ban, to encourage them to remember their reusable bags
  • speaking with every stallholder to explain the importance of supporting the ban and encouraging customers to use alternatives.

The talk tent

Education and awareness has also been a big part of our work with Wesley Market. During 2018, we set up a talk tent to provide a non-judgemental space for people to learn more about reducing waste.

We invited guest speakers to come and present with us, so there was always something new and different to learn about. We’ve seen a noticeable change in attitudes to waste, amongst both stallholders and shoppers.

What’s next

We’ve been working with The Compost Collective to install a large scale worm farm at the nursery next to the market. This worm farm will take any remaining food scraps from the market that can’t be disposed of elsewhere. The ultimate goal is to become a community composting hub through ShareWaste, offering a place for nearby residents to bring their food scraps.

Other plans include:

  • extending our waste awareness and composting programmes to the local school, community centre and nearby residents
  • 
continuing to encourage and raise awareness of using the right bins for types of waste
  • adding more programmes, such as Love Food Hate Waste and The Compost Collective workshops
  • improving residents’ connections with the local stream, through restoration and cycle ways
  • 
increasing education and awareness about climate action, including links with Roskill Climate Restart.

Want to know more?

Email sarah@ecomatters.org.nz to find out more or get involved.

Thanks to our funders

The support of the Puketāpapa Local Board makes this work possible.