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5 October 2023

Paewira – a waste-to-energy solution


A public notification process is underway, allowing Waipā residents and businesses to have their say on a proposed waste-to-energy plant that, if approved, will be built at 401 Racecourse Road in Te Awamutu. 


Paewira, the name of the proposed plant, would use a proven technology called thermal waste conversion to incinerate waste material, which would otherwise be sent to landfills, to create electricity. 


People have until 13 October to submit their thoughts on the proposal to help divert 150,000 tonnes of waste away from landfills each year, recover 80 tonnes of recyclable material each day, and power 15,000 homes – almost the entire Waipā district.


The majority shareholder of the company behind the proposal, Craig Tuhoro, wants to ensure people completely understand the concept and reasoning behind Paewira before making any decisions – whether they’re for or against the proposal.


The concept


Waste minimisation, recycling and resource recovery are nothing new to Tuhoro and his proudly Māori owned and whānau-run company, Global Metal Solutions (GMS).  


The ISO-certified scrap metal processing company based out of Hamilton collects, processes and exports approximately 70,000 –  100,000 tonnes of scrap metal annually. It also manages about 60,000 tonnes of cardboard, paper and plastics out of the Pacific.


In their 12 years of operation, Tuhoro and his team have continuously kept an eye on how they can improve their environmental impact and support Aotearoa New Zealand’s growing landfill problem.  


According to the Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand sends 12.6 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year – the equivalent of about 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 


“At GMS, we send approximately 18,000 tonnes of floc (a waste product produced by the scrap metal recycling process) to landfill each year. That’s too much, so I began searching for a solution. That’s how I came across thermal waste conversion – a successfully used process across Europe.


“I realised how we could apply the technology to mitigate floc disposal and aid our growing waste disposal issues in Aotearoa. It was a wow moment,” says Tuhoro.


Tuhoro says there’s an element of restoration too. “This initiative is not merely about waste management; it’s a bold stride towards environmental restoration. Along with diverting material away from landfills, we’re committed to extracting metals already contaminating our soil and remediating old, closed landfills that leach into our waterways. This innovative process will allow us to consume the old waste and recycle the metals, actively healing our land and protecting our waters and whenua for future generations.”


GCS aims to remediate all old landfills within 1km of any waterways in Aotearoa, using this material to fuel the plant. 


Why Te Awamutu?

Waipā generates around 27,000 tonnes of rubbish annually, based on this 2022 Waipā waste assessment.


With proud whakapapa links back to the land in Te Awamutu, Tuhoro sees Paewira not merely as an opportunity, but as an obligation to help clean up the whenua, provide a valuable resource in electricity, and support his own people – a harmonious blend of honouring ancestral ties and forging a sustainable path forward for the community. 


“It will also create 60 new jobs for the town. That’s not including the people required to build one of the most significant construction projects Waipā has ever seen,” says Tuhoro. 


He says it’s not just about the power plant though – it’s about a commitment to safeguarding our future too, ensuring that future generations inherit a world where sustainability and prosperity coexist harmoniously.


“The project will unlock opportunities to educate future generations about waste minimisation, clean up the nearby Mangapiko Stream, and celebrate the people of Ngāti Apakura and their connection to the land. We also want to teach people about recycling and offer educational tours around the plant,” says Tuhoro.

GMS, and its subsidiary company Global Contacting Solutions, acknowledge the community's concerns about burning waste. 

“We are dedicated to transparently providing timely and accurate information, empowering people to make informed decisions that will positively shape our community, environment, and future. 

“We encourage everyone to voice their opinions on the project, whether in favour or against. Our goal is to ensure that everyone fully understands the science and methodology behind the process first.” 

Ensure your voice is heard and informed. Check out the resources on the Paewira website for key information and visit the Waipā District Council website before making a submission.


About Paewira:


  • Paewira is designed to:

o    Divert 150,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill each year.

o    Recover 80 tonnes of recyclable materials each day.

o    Generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes – that’s almost the entire Waipā district (almost 20,000 homes as per the 2018 census).

  • Paewira will need 460 tonnes of waste material each day to produce the optimal amount of power – that’s about 25 truck and trailer deliveries each day.

  • All up there will be approximately 185 vehicle movements to and from the site each day, including: 

o    25 heavy vehicles

o    20 utes and light trucks

o    50 cars/trailers

o    60 staff vehicles (if each staff member drove to work)

o    Service vehicles.

  • The composition of the fuel material will comprise of waste material that would otherwise be destined for landfill. This will include ‘flock’ from scrap vehicles, end-of-life tyres, municipal solid waste (MSW) and non-recyclable plastics derived from several sources around the Waikato region where pre-sorting of the material will occur prior to delivery at the site.

  • It will create 60 new jobs for employees once operational. That’s not including the jobs required to construct what will be one of Te Awamutu’s largest construction projects. 

  • If approved via the resource consent process, construction of Paewira is expected to begin in late 2024.

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