Business Waste Creates Community Connection


In 2018, Talking Rubbish team began building a long-term partnership with locally based, global company Tourism Holdings Limited (thl).  thl is the largest provider of holiday vehicles for rent and sale globally, and in New Zealand operates under the Maui, Britz and Mighty rentals brands.  An internet search to find community-based support to reduce waste led the firm’s General Manager of Responsible Management Saskia Verraes to our website, and has been the start of a fruitful relationship for both thl and ME Family Services.


thl has a vision to “sustainably connect millions with personalised local experiences” through “protecting the environment and benefitting the communities (they) touch”.  This vision extends to the operation of the various branches around New Zealand and has inspired the company to look at the waste being produced there and how it’s being dealt with.


After meeting with Mangere branch management in mid-2018, our Talking Rubbish team began with an audit to collect some baseline data on what waste that was currently being produced and where it was going.  This was the largest waste audit our team had conducted and gave us a great opportunity to refine our processes and train extra team members to assist.


We also conducted a tour of the Mangere branch site and made recommendations about the type and placement of bins, to make it as easy as possible for staff and customers to sort and separate their rubbish.  From the waste audit, we suggested the branch look into starting a food waste collection, to enable this waste stream to be diverted from landfill and reused as compost.


Recognising that changes in waste systems are not enough on their own, we offered to provide education for the 100 staff members based at the Mangere branch.  Over a period of three months, our Talking Rubbish educators provided 13 workshops, engaging staff in our vision for a thriving, regenerative, zero waste Mangere/Otahuhu, and encouraging them to see their part in creating this. 


We also looked for opportunities for waste items from thl to be diverted into the local community, and introduced staff to our ME Family Services resource recovery programme.  This programme provides links to community groups and services who can re-use or re-purpose “waste” items.  Tom Wichman from CIDANZ was thrilled to receive 700 small hoses that thl were removing from their campervans, utilising these in the construction of hydroponic gardens, and our Early Childhood Centre children had great fun creating “music” with repurposed pot lids! Lots of bedding and kitchen items have been rehomed through our Recovery Room.


Our relationship with thl continues, and we’re currently connecting the company with local artisans to supply products for their onsite souvenir and gift store, and local tourism opportunities for their customers.


Linking with ME Family Services and Talking Rubbish has been invaluable for us to improve our operations and find the right connections in the community”, says Saskia Verraes. We could not be where we are now with our waste awareness, building up valuable community knowledge and planning for a great community and staff engagement event without the help of the friendly and very resourceful  team at ME family Services. This is the type of collaboration that creates real long term value for both us and the communities we operate in, and we are grateful to have found such a great partner helping us on this path”.


Our relationship with thl is a wonderful example of how “Talking Rubbish” can be the catalyst for systemic, community regeneration!


Written by Justine Skilling