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Landfill-free maunga: everything you need to know

Our waste reduction journey has been a core focus at Cardrona and Treble Cone for years, and recently we’ve taken significant steps to become waste-free destinations.

By eliminating all public-facing landfill bins, we’ve taken our commitment to sustainability to the next level which has already had a huge impact, saving countless PET from ending up in landfills. But how much have we really saved from hitting landfill? It’s not just coffee cups that have avoided being chucked away; read on to find out how we’re becoming landfill-free.

Everything is guided by purpose

At Cardrona and Treble Cone, our actions are guided by our overarching purpose

Ka whai mana mo te maunga - To bring mana to our mountain
Ka whai mana mo te tangata - To bring mana to our people
Ka whai mana mo ake tonu - To bring mana to our future

These guiding principles reflect our commitment to caring for the environment and the communities we serve. As kaitiaki (guardians) of the maunga (mountain), we consider it not just our responsibility but our duty to nurture, conserve, and regenerate these special places.

The sustainability timeline

We couldn't believe how much we saved in just one year! 

2013: Removing plastic on pies

Cardrona and Treble Cone's waste-free journey began in 2013 when we made the decision to remove plastic wrap from pies. What seems like a small step resulted in saving more than 24,000 plastic packets that year.

We like compostable packaging and we cannot lie.

2014: Goodbye plastic straws

Continuing our progress, we bid farewell to plastic straws in 2014, more waste saved!

2015: Get local, send local

In 2015, we recognised that sourcing produce locally, would reduce our carbon footprint as well as show off the best New Zealand has to offer in food and beverage. We also sent kitchen waste to local farms for composting, diverting organic waste from landfills.

2016: Takeaway free

Surprisingly, takeaways on-mountain used to be popular, and we used to see Cardrona's Noodle Bar using 25,000 packages annually. We removed the option to take away at Noodle Bar, saving thousands! Captain's Pizzeria followed suit, installing beer taps and reducing the number of takeaway bottles.

Noodle Bar tastes even better when you dine in

2017: Hello glass crusher

Cardrona installed a glass crusher and a compactor truck, making it easier to recycle glass. We also took a decisive step to eliminate single-use plastics, reducing plastic waste significantly.

2018: 100% real crockery and cutlery

This year, Cardrona switched entirely to using only real crockery and cutlery, eliminating single-use coffee and chip cups, paper plates, cutlery, and water cups. Even our ice cream tubs were made from recyclable paper. The knock-on effect of not needing to supply cafes with single-use products meant we saved on fuel transporting the items. Good generates good.

2019: Supplying sustainable demands

We started thinking about the larger picture, and how we could save plastic on the wider journey off-mountain. First, we replaced produce pallet wrap with cargo nets, reducing unnecessary plastic use. Then we installed more beer taps and milk dispensers in the Base Area, saving 20,000 plastic bottles and 3,000 X 2-litre milk bottles.

2020: Banning the plastic bottles

2020 marked a significant milestone as both Cardrona and Treble Cone eliminated PET from the premises, saving a combined total of over 50,000 plastic bottles. We also formulated a procurement policy, holding suppliers accountable for sustainable practices.

Compostable packaging for the win!

2021: Bye, bins

This was the year landfill bins were banished from both resorts, asking guests who came to visit to pack in and pack out with their own lunches, and adapt to our recycling, reusable and compost initiatives. Plastic packaging was gone from all fresh produce we sold, so there was no need to throw anything away after purchasing food on the mountains. Any packaging we did sell was in compostable wrapping, which we composted on-premises. We recognised the importance of plant-based diets, and Base Bar become a completely plant-based offering, winning Cardrona PETA’s award for the ‘Most Vegan-Friendly Ski Resort’!

Landfill-free and beyond

2021 was a huge milestone for the mountains and resulted in continuous efforts to reduce waste even further and continue responsible waste disposal. Establishing a compost facility at Cardrona and a worm farm at Treble Cone, turns our organic waste into valuable compost, which we can then use in our Plant a Seed Projects, closing the cycle of waste.

Cardrona's Composting Plant

Is there anything you would like to see us adapt to in our waste-free plans? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch on our social channels!

About the Author

Eleanor Stephens