Only a third of residents living in the neighbourhood of Tauranga environmentalists Basil and Ann Graeme practice kerbside recycling.
The result of a their two-week walkabout investigation around Bellevue was revealed at yesterday's hearing of submissions on the city council's proposed plan to manage and reduce waste.
Mrs Graeme told councillors they counted 72 recycling wheelie bins left out to be emptied from 203 properties - a total of 35 per cent.
The rest were general household waste wheelie bins that went to landfill or rubbish bags that also went to landfill.
"I am here to support ratepayer-funded kerbside recycling," she told the council.
The Graemes sometimes looked inside general waste bins and often saw recyclables like glass, paper and plastics.
She said their investigations suggested that an awful lot of recyclable materials were going to landfill.
Mrs Graeme said their findings might reflect the reluctance by some people to take the initiative and pay up front for a bin service, confusion caused by the plethora of bin operators, or people who were moving on from their rental.
"Whatever it is, it is not working, and the environment pays."
She said it was the council's job to work in the best interests of ratepayers.
Interviewed afterwards, Mrs Graeme said she found the council's plan difficult to understand.
"My thoughts on what needs to happen are as plain as the nose on my face."
The difficulty facing the council was that a lot of people had a vested interest in picking up rubbish. "The council has to listen to everybody."
Mrs Graeme was surprised at how few people took part in kerbside recycling. "It focussed our minds."
Another submitter was geo-technical engineer Lawrence Charles who urged the council to push for the acceptance of codes three to seven plastic bottles. Currently only code one and two plastics were accepted for recycling.
He said the council should also run a pilot programme to add shredded tyres into sub-base road foundations, along with using recycled basecourse materials like crushed concrete or old asphalt to repair or build new roads.
Mr Charles also wanted a return to the days when there was a deposit on bottles, saying it should be at least 5c and preferable 10c to have real impact. It would make the less fortunate in the community the leaders in getting the deposit back.
He called for a ban on environmentally harmful polystyrene foam food containers and on one-use plastic bags. His alternative for the bags was a 50c fee per bag levied at checkouts.