‘Plogging’, a Swedish fitness trend combining jogging or walking with picking up litter to clean up waterways, is a proposal put forward by one of this year’s Management Challenge teams. The proposal is a great example of engaging the local community for a common cause – in this case removing waste to improve the environment.   

The proposal by Napier City Council’s “Iron Foxes” team would see the use of local volunteers plogging to clean up the City’s waterways and greenbelts. High levels of waste in the estuary and water contamination issues have impacted community recreational activities.   

Above: Napier City Council's "Iron Foxes" team

Caring for our environment and connecting communities are important generators of well-being, and part of the purpose of local government. Removing rubbish from the city’s waterways and surrounding areas means it can be dealt with in a more sustainable way. The plogging project would also enable the local community to connect with each other, while exercising, which in turn supports positive well-being outcomes.    

Councils have a responsibility under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to protect water quality and quantity, the coastal marine area, waterways and the surrounding areas. This was the driver behind Napier City Council’s proposal.   

“Our Senior Leadership Team agreed that one of the biggest issues facing our community is cleaning up our waterways. We live in such a beautiful part of New Zealand and want to keep it that way,” said team member Talia Foster.  

“We consulted with the community on various aspects of the proposal and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. What really amazed us was that our proposal included the use of a plogging app with a rewards-based system to encourage people to use the app, yet feedback was that the community would be happy to use the app and help clean up our waterways even if there wasn’t an incentive. This really highlighted the community support for the project and the commitment to clean up the environment.”     

This year’s Management Challenge teams were required to develop and evaluate ideas for new or improved service delivery through an innovative use of volunteering. After coming up with a suitable idea, each team was then required to consult with their council’s senior leadership team and with their community on the proposal.  

“We are meeting with our Senior Leadership Team later this month to see if we can implement it, so watch this space!” said Talia.