Confidence in New Zealand’s food products and the marketing of NZ as “100% pure” rely on our land-based industries combining a high level of production while minimising the entry of contaminants into foods or local environments. New Zealand’s economy is vulnerable if contaminant are found in NZ produce or our land and water becomes degraded to the point where it reduces the tourist dollars spent here. Biowastes (wastes of biological origin) are arguably the most important contributor to the degradation of New Zealand’s economy and environment when they enter waterways, contaminate high-value land, or require costly disposal. Biowastes in the form of nutrient-rich animal and human wastes currently contaminate rivers, lakes, and harbours. Most of New Zealand’s biosolids go to landfills - at great expense. Pine waste is dumped in large piles that leach tannins and degrade waterways and composts made from municipal green waste are under-utilised.
I seek to create economic and environmental value from biowastes by ensuring that biowastes and the nutrients they contain improve our soils rather than degrade our waters. While the programme is based on Environmental Chemistry, it requires significant contributions from ecologists, ecotoxicologists, microbiologists, experts in land management, social scientists and Māori knowledge.