John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

User pays not working to recycle Tauranga rubbish

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Marty Hoffart is calling for a rates-funded recycling service in Tauranga, with more options for plastic bottles. PHOTO/FILE
Marty Hoffart is calling for a rates-funded recycling service in Tauranga, with more options for plastic bottles. PHOTO/FILE

A Tauranga recycling expert has turned his back on user pays as the best way to encourage people to reduce the quantity of waste entering landfills.

Marty Hoffart of Waste Watchers consultancy said he had been a staunch advocate of a user-pays system for the 23 years he had lived and worked in Tauranga.

"However, after two decades, the system has not delivered. It's not working as it was intended and it's not reducing the amount of waste landfilled each week," he said.

Mr Hoffart was a key submitter to this week's council hearings on the draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan. He urged the council to investigate a rates-funded service similar to Auckland

His previous support for user pays was because it rewarded people who shopped wisely, composted their food scraps and minimised waste. "People that produce less at the kerbside are rewarded under a pay as you toss system.

They pay less for their kerbside collections if they put out less."

But while some people had changed their behaviour by doing things like worm farming, about half of the 18 truck and trailer loads that went to Waikato landfills each week were filled with organic waste.

"Each trucks carts a 22-tonne load, roughly half of which is easily compostable food and garden waste."

Mr Hoffart said Tauranga already had a facility to turn organic matter into compost.
Multiple research sources agreed that organic waste filled over 40 per cent of average household wheelie bins or rubbish bags. "Tauranga's behaviour is no different than anywhere else."

He said the real issue were the environmental savings. "Burying apple cores and potato peelings in a landfill creates greenhouse gases that are far more damaging to the planet. Organic waste is the most harmful waste we bury - most people would not realise that."
Current practises meant an enormous amount of fuel was used to transport heavy wet material across the Kaimais.

He also highlighted how, unlike most other areas of New Zealand, grades 3 to 7 plastics were not collected in Tauranga because they were less valuable.

"Only a rate-funded kerbside collection could deliver this outcome. It would give council control over the contract and dictate terms and conditions."

The council needed to consider a kerbside service that included a separate glass, garden and food waste collection, he said. "You have to go after the organics aggressively."

Mr Hoffart suggested tagging bins with bar codes to encourage people to reduce their waste and get the best of both systems. "Council should investigate a rates-funded pay as you throw system. The technology is there and it means people will be encouraged and rewarded for minimising waste.

In another submission, children aged seven to nine from the private ACG School at Pyes Pa delivered their thoughts on what was needed in Tauranga. Isla Gregg said smaller versions of transfer station recycling centres should be set up around town, such as at the Bayfair Shopping Centre and Brookfield New World.

"We also liked what they do at Whanganui where the council has a trailer that it takes to sport and community events."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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