An Auckland Council review of how it charges for kerbside refuse collection could result in the end of orange rubbish bags in Rodney and a new bin system charged via household rates.
Council’s Waste Solutions department is carrying out the review as part of its waste management and minimisation plan to provide consistent waste services across the region.
At present, there are a number of rubbish collection methods used throughout Auckland, with just over half funded by rates and provided by Council, and 45 per cent pay-as-you-throw (PAYT), provided by Council or a private operator.
There is currently no council refuse collection service in Rodney – the service is provided by Northland Waste – but Council has committed to providing an Auckland-wide PAYT service in future, with the aim of reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfill.
However, that commitment may now be in jeopardy, as new research by environmental consultants Waste Not has found “no clear evidence that PAYT areas of Auckland produce less refuse per capita than rates-funded areas”. In addition, management consultants Morrison Low concluded that rates-funded refuse collection would provide greater cost-effectiveness for Council than the current hybrid model or the PAYT option.
The review and its findings came under scrutiny at this month’s Rodney Local Board meeting, which began with a presentation by Northland Waste project manager April Peter during the public forum. She said the company had been collecting refuse in Rodney for 20 years and understood the rural area required tailored solutions for widely varying needs.
“We genuinely believe that a modern, user-friendly user pays system is the right thing to do. First and foremost, because residents have real flexibility – they can get their rubbish collected weekly, fortnightly, monthly and they’re only paying for the refuse they produce,” she said.
“Bach owners really like bags, as they don’t have to worry about bins going missing.
“And we know, user-pays encourages people to reduce waste. A ratepayer system doesn’t have that same incentive. We’re really concerned that all of Auckland is going to miss out if we switch to a ratepayer-funded model.”
Several members questioned the Board’s suggested feedback on the review, which accepted Council findings that there was no clear evidence that PAYT model reduced waste to landfill.
“I don’t think it puts emphasis on the fact that PAYT gives an opportunity to modify the way people behave, whereas that’s lost if it’s a council rates service,” Warkworth member Steven Garner said. “It says we support the council model. There has not been discussion about other ways to use PAYT to reduce waste.”
Beth Houlbrooke was keen to hear more information about PAYT bins with smart chips inside, which Ms Peter said Northland Waste had recently trialled successfully on the North Shore.
Wellsford member Colin Smith said he was unhappy that the Board feedback was leading to what Council wanted, not what people wanted, and called for a division vote.
Board chair Phelan Pirrie maintained this was early-stage feedback and nothing would happen without public consultation, and evidence showed a rates-based collection system would reduce waste to landfill.
The suggested feedback was voted through, with Steven Garner, Colin Smith and Tim Holdgate voting against.
Feedback from all local boards will be considered when Council staff make their recommendation to be considered by Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee on October 14.