Profile: Green Sky Waste Solutions

Green Sky Waste Solutions Uploading: The Isuzu gantry truck loads skip bins in Waipukurau Green Sky Waste Solutions
Green Sky Waste Solutions Safety first: Driver Andy Peters out on the streets of Hastings. Note the safety feature on the door of the LEV truck. Green Sky Waste Solutions
Green Sky Waste Solutions Green Sky Waste Solutions

At Green Sky Waste Solutions in Whakatu, between Napier and Hastings, trucks ply back and forth as they prepare a new building site. By October, the 600-square-metre processing plant will be up and running.

Profile: Green Sky Waste Solutions
Clean team: Hawke’s Bay’s environment is in the capable hands of experienced recyclers, Bruce Ireland and Darren Green

In December 2012, the Hawke's Bay business won a fiveyear contract with the Hastings District and Napier City Councils to manage their kerbside recycling.

It's been months of hardcore preparation for owner Darren Green and director, Bruce Ireland. Both have proven track records in the recycling industry. Ireland was the founding secretary of the Recycling Operators of New Zealand. His past includes work at Paper Reclaim, Visy Recycling and Smart Environmental in Auckland. While Green started out in the family business in Palmerston North, contracting initially to All Brite Services and then Full Circle Recycling Ltd in Manawatu, Horowhenua and Whanganui.

The pair teamed up to operate the contract for kerb-side rubbish and recycling with the Central Hawke's Bay District Council (CHB) in 2008.

Here they cover the rural towns of Waipawa and Waipukurau, 40 minutes drive south of Hastings.

"For the Napier and Hastings contracts, we went through the scenario of getting other people to process the product, but in the end decided it was better to do it ourselves," says Green. "This meant building a new facility from scratch."

" We see ourselves as an approachable and nimble operation and one of the pluses of that is the Napier and Hastings Councils can talk to us at any time and we sort issues out straight away, rather than having to go through a chain of command," he says.

Both Green and Ireland say all the councils are excellent to work with.

Deals on Wheels is out on the streets of Hastings with Ireland as he chases down one of their fleet of Mitsubishi trucks. Having the GPS at hand means the crew are easily located.

The weekly pick-up is going smoothly. The left-hand drive, low-entry cab (LEV) allows the driver to exit the vehicle, pick up then feed the recycling to his co-worker, who sorts glass, plastic and paper into separate bins.

This design means two operators, instead of three, can easily collect and process the collection.

"We were worried about what the guys would think of the LEV conversions but most say they love the Mitsubishis. The feedback we've got so far is that the drivers like the exercise. It would be ideal to have every one in the fleet with a truck license so they could all take turns," says Green.

Green was involved from the beginning with the design of the trucks. The Mitsubishis were imported from Japan as cab chassis', then customised. Manco Environmental Ltd in Auckland mastered the bodies and fitted them to the chassis, then Wilkinson's Transport Engineers in Cambridge did the LEV conversions. That involved left-hand drive steering conversion, brake, accelerator and electricals.

Neither company had ever done conversions like this on Mitsubishis, but Ireland and Green say they are pleased with the results.

Converting each truck comes at a considerable cost, but ultimately they hope it will pay off in terms of efficiency and safety.

Having been in action for three months and seen how things are going, there are a few details they want to modify on the trucks.

"Our trucks have been ergonomically designed for the stand-up position but having tried it myself, the standing position is a bit cramped and more lumbar support is needed. At present there is not quite enough adjustment allowed," says Ireland.

They will also have to make some changes to the truck that services the Napier hill. Although it was especially built for the narrow streets, they are having problems with the amount of overhang at the back.

They will also change the paper and plastic bays around to enable them to hold more paper and cardboard, because Napier has higher than average cardboard content in their kerbside collection.

"We try and do things better than our competitors and sometimes, this costs a lot more. We hope it will pay off in the long run," says Ireland.

GPS (global positioning systems) company, Senseri, have helped them to make use of the latest GPS software. "Senseri have been very good at customizing the way the reports and screen shots look on the trucks. This enables us to analyse a wide range of data, including stop and pick up times," he says.

In Central Hawke's Bay their operation is slightly different because they do kerbside rubbish collection and recycling. Twice a week a hook truck and trailer takes plastics to Palmerston North for recycling and glass as an aggregate replacement. Although as much recycling as possible is processed, the non-recyclable waste goes to the local landfill.

They say they have reduced the amount of rubbish going to the landfill in CHB by 20 percent.

While we are out and about, Ireland receives a phone call about a liquid spillage. He doubles back to check the property where it occurred to make sure it's no longer a problem.

Being accessible and courteous is the way Green Sky likes to operate.

"We want to build a good reputation. You get renewals on contracts by being easy to work with and having everything running smoothly. In the end it works out cheaper for the rate payer and cheaper for the council too," he says.

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