January 28 2019 by Simon Cox
The ban on single-use supermarket bags appears to have gone smoothly and very quickly. I’ve gotten used to taking the bags to the supermarket or coughing up for a reusable bag when I forget to put them back in the car. It seems weird that most ‘reusable’ bags are still plastic or plastic-based… but it’s a start. Most of the community has taken on board this initiative, which is aimed at cutting down the amount of waste in the system and reducing the likelihood of plastic entering the environment. The ease of implementation reinforces that individuals in Queenstown are happy to do their bit to reduce the amount of waste that’s going to the tip and the consequential risk to the environment.
What I don’t see happening is the same degree of commitment coming from the local political leadership when it comes to planning or building systems and infrastructure that will reduce waste in the first place and seriously get into recycling in all forms. Population projections suggest a doubling of permanent residents in the next ten years, coupled with massive increases in visitors and tourists. Considering the accommodation and infrastructure needs that this entails, it’s imperative that planning and construction is well ahead of the game to ensure Queenstown can accommodate that growth and does it in a proactive way that’s harmonious and respectful to our community and the environment. It seems that the horse has bolted on the question of whether we even want that level of growth!
Recycling and proper waste disposal has been talked about forever but there’s still no outcome I can see. Add to that, the water quality of our lakes and the increasing demands on our water supplies. Individuals can only take responsibility for their own waste reduction and recycling, we can’t do a lot about the delivery of the services nor what businesses are doing. That’s our elected officials’ role – to formulate policy, and it’s council’s responsibility to deliver, including on recycling, waste disposal, water protection and infrastructure. We, the people, have continually let council know we want these areas addressed and that the public will support initiatives that are aligned with our desire to protect this incredible environment, but it is our leaders that must lead. Time is running out!
Surely, we are at that point, where ongoing growth without a plan to protect the pristine nature of the environment, minimise the impact being made by businesses, developers and the current population through an active waste depletion plan, will lead to Queenstown being a less attractive place to visit and with residents having a significantly reduced quality of life. That would really p*** people off! With 2019 being an election year, let’s hope our elected leaders will get busy and do what we elected them to do: lead!