The question of a user-pays versus a rates-funded waste system has been raised as two local councils review how the region's waste is managed.
The size of the problem is huge with more than 80,000 tonnes of the Western Bay district's rubbish ending up in landfills each year, despite an estimate that more than half of that waste could have been recycled or composted.
Both Tauranga City and Western Bay District councils are reviewing their 2010 joint waste management and minimisation plan, which sets out goals for the next six years.
The plan looks at ways to maximise the amount of waste being diverted from the landfill.
The two councils had set up an online discussion site, Saving the Planet: Is it a Load of Rubbish?, which compared the two waste minimisation approaches.
Anything which helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill has got to be a good thing.
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Figures obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times showed that of the 135,425 tonnes of waste collected in the region during the 2014/2015 financial year only 26per cent was recycled or composted.
Of the 83,415 tonnes that went to landfill, an estimated 52per cent could have been recycled or composted if the right diversion systems had been in place.
Residents were asked to consider whether the current user-pays waste collection and disposal offered the best environmental outcomes for the region.
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Rebecca Maiden, Tauranga City Council's manager of resource recovery and waste, said reducing the amount of waste the region produced came down to changing people's behaviours.
Ms Maiden said that included how food items were being packaged when people did their weekly shop at supermarkets and how much waste was discarded versus recycled or composted.
"Each option had its own merits depending upon the outcomes people were looking for," she said.
However, Ms Maiden said under the rates funded system councils would have more control over the way the waste streams were managed and monitored.
Mount Maunganui coffee drinker Dr Jeremy Hayman said he had been shocked to learn that the thousands of biodegradable coffee cups now used by many local cafes did not break down in landfills.
"People think they are doing the right thing by placing their used cups in council rubbish bins, but once they are mixed in with the rest of the rubbish the cups can't be composted."
Dr Hayman proposed a system whereby the coffee cups were placed into specially designed bins which would be collected for composting by a local firm at no charge to cafe owners.
He had already discussed the initiative with staff at Tauranga City Council and local cafe owners who were keen to see the proposed system up and running, even on a trial basis, he said.
Tay Street Dairy owner Peter Grindrod said he thought Mr Hayman's proposal was a great idea.
"We go through about 1000 coffee cups a week and if you times that by 52 that's a huge number of cups a year."
Mr Grindrod said he already used eco-branded coffee cupsand recycled his coffee grinds.
"Anything which helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill has got to be a good thing."
Ms Maiden said council was definitely keen to explore the suggestion.
Western Bay of Plenty utilities manager Kelvin Hill said the results would help ensure waste issues of importance to the community were effectively addressed in the new Joint Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.
The revised draft plan was expected to be released for public consultation in May.
Waste statistics for Western Bay region
2014/2015 financial year:
* 135,425 tonnes of rubbish collected
* 83,415 tonnes went to landfill.
* Only 26% recycled or composted.
2013/2014 financial year:
* 126, 902 tonnes of rubbish collected.
* 80,747 tonnes went to landfill.
* Only 27% recycled or composted.
(Potentially 52% of all landfill rubbish could have been recycled or composted)