Currently, in New Zealand, landfilling of biosolids is the preferred option for local authorities due to perceived and real uncertainties around alternative re-use options. There is a strong scientific, economic and environmental case that application to land is the most sustainable option, because biosolids contain large amounts of valuable plant nutrients which can be beneficially re-used. However, the beneficial re-use of biosolids is also potentially the least acceptable to the New Zealand public. New Zealand has some unique central and local government drivers for consultation and public engagement, but in practice community engagement can be difficult and risky. Management of wastewater solids can be high cost and high risk and strongly determined by technical criteria and constraints. It is therefore important that a transparent and well developed framework for community engagement is used.

LEI have been using a quadruple bottom line (QBL) approach to community engagement for a number of years and have developed a field tested strategy which is presented in this paper. Researchers from the Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research (CIBR) have also been evaluating QBL approaches and testing community engagement with urban and rural communities since 2003.

Together, CIBR and LEI have developed a Community Engagement Framework for biowastes. The framework includes practical steps required for community engagement and consultation, project concept design, resource consenting, and system operation and management. This framework can be applied to sustainable waste management and is especially useful for engagement around more contentious wastes such as biosolids. The framework is the document that is recommended for use by the waste sector and will be launched at the conference. This paper outlines LEI’s practical approach to
community engagement.

Article published in Water New Zealand Issue 210, July/August 2019. To read the full article click here [PDF, 358 KB]

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