Cheaper kerbside recycling and food waste voted in

Published on 27 May 2022

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Whanganui District Council has listened to community feedback on the cost of kerbside recycling and food waste and voted to bring in the collections at a reduced cost to ratepayers. The council has had confirmation it will receive increased central government funding from waste levies and these will be used to reduce the targeted rate for kerbside collections by 20%.

Kerbside recycling is now estimated at $2.14 weekly from mid-2023 and kerbside food waste is estimated at $0.82 weekly from mid-2024.

The council’s general manager property and open spaces, Sarah O’Hagan, says the council is “really mindful that some people in our community are struggling with cost of living increases so we listened to their concerns and recommended using recently increased waste levies to introduce the services at a lower cost.”

Central government shares waste levies – which are paid by landfills – amongst councils to use for waste minimisation initiatives. With the recent news that waste levies will increase substantially through to 2026, the council can access more government funding for kerbside collections.

“Climate change was also a key consideration,” Sarah O’Hagan says, “since keeping food waste out of the landfill makes a big impact on greenhouse gases. Our recommendation to elected members balanced the desire to keep rates low with the responsibility to act on climate change.”

The council received 284 formal submissions for the annual plan and long-term plan amendment consultation and 18 people spoke directly to councillors at hearings earlier this month.

Formal submissions showed 63% support for kerbside recycling and 35% support for kerbside food waste.

“The level of support we’ve seen is in line with what’s been experienced in other centres,” Sarah O’Hagan says. “Initially demand for kerbside food waste tends to be quite low, but once the service is operating and people see its usefulness, participation rates increase significantly.

“Using the services means less going into rubbish bins, and this can lead to savings for households that can then reduce their bin size or collection frequency.

“With rubbish disposal costs tipped to increase significantly in coming years, the chance to save money with the kerbside services will be appealing to many households.”

She says the future is looking “promising” for reducing the cost of kerbside collections even further.  

“In its recent budget central government indicated several sources of funding will be available to councils for kerbside recycling and food waste collections so we’ll be working hard in coming months to access that funding and reduce the cost to Whanganui households even further.”

Central government has recently consulted on a proposal that would require all councils to implement kerbside food waste collections in urban areas by no later than 2030.

“By being proactive and getting in early, we’re better placed to access central government support, subsidies and grants and keep those household costs down.”

She says the council will seek funding for electric trucks to maximise the climate change mitigation benefits.

During deliberations Mayor Hamish McDouall spoke about the importance of responding to climate change. He said, “While we have a cost of living crisis right now, and while we must always consider the widow living in a larger house on a fixed income, I’m worried about the legacy we’re leaving for the next generation.”

“If we don’t do the things that matter right now, we’re letting them down because they’re going to be inheritors of a world that will be impossible to live in.

“Can I tell you what our biggest crisis is? It's climate change.”

Only households in the collection areas – the Whanganui urban area and Fordell, Marybank and Mowhanau villages – will pay the targeted rate for the new services. The targeted rate for recycling will start in mid-2023 and the targeted rate for food waste will start from mid-2024.

The kerbside food waste service will collect a much wider range of food scraps than what can be composted at home, including meat, bones, fish, cooked food and some compostable packaging.

The Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre on Maria Place will remain open for households in rural areas and to collect items that cannot be collected kerbside. Two recycling stations will also be trialled in rural areas.


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