Two days of hearings at Hamilton City Council on February 16 and 17 saw proposals for changes to Hamilton's rubbish and recycling collection gone over with a fine-tooth comb by members of both the public and council.
The proposal suggests that black rubbish bags and the small recycling crate could be replaced by separate wheeled bins used for rubbish and recycling.
Under the plan, the crate could be reused for glass recycling only, while an organic collection could also be in the pipeline.
An impressive number of around 2800 written submissions were received by council during the two-month consultation period late last year, which was a record for public engagement with a council proposal.
Submitters were given the opportunity to share their views in front of councillors if they wished, and many took it up.
The resulting report summarising the hearings and the business case for changes to rubbish collection will be presented to council's growth and infrastructure committee on March 28.
"One of the special features of these hearings has been the number of people who said this is their first time coming into chambers and being part of our decision-making process," said Councillor Angela O'Leary after chairing the hearings.
"It can be a bit daunting, but the hearings have brought out some really thoughtful and useful contributions, and it's great to hear directly from the people we represent. The views expressed in the written and verbal submissions will be addressed in the next steps of the process."
It is hoped that the proposed rubbish and recycling collection scheme would increase Hamilton's rate of recycling from 29 per cent to 50 per cent, diverting over 100,000 tonnes of rubbish from landfills over the 10 years starting from 2019/20.
But council found that a significant number of submitters did not fully understand the proposal and were inherently concerned that older people or those with less mobility would have trouble putting the new wheeled bins out for collection.
There were also worries expressed that some higher density properties would not have room to store the bins.
In fact, council is giving concentrated consideration to alternative ways of collecting bins that would cater to differing needs and properties.
"We've just started an exercise to understand the number of properties that potentially will be affected, who probably won't be able to store the bins," said Emily Botje, Hamilton City Council staffer overseeing the proposal.
"A lot of the multi-density housing actually do have space. They just have to be a bit more innovative to find the space. Especially in those 1970s long blocks, you can actually put the bins down the shared driveway, because there is space.
"The more recent houses might be slightly more difficult when the only space they have is actually at the back door and they can't get down the front, so we will need to identify those and come up with an alternative solution. That may be what's been mentioned in the hearings - a communal bin - or it might mean for those properties we can't have bins, we've got to go back to bags."
Botje said council would work with the contractor to come up with the solution for that specific property.