In a bid to minimise household waste, and extend the life of the Omarunui landfill, the Hastings District and Napier City councils are looking at ways to encourage more recycling and reduce the amount of organic waste people dispose of.
The councils' joint waste futures project steering committee met yesterday to finalise a waste management and minimisation plan for the next six years.
The plan noted that in the 2016-17 year the councils sent just over 84,000 tonnes of waste to the landfill, up from just over 75,000 tonnes in 2015-16, the increase influenced by population and economic growth, and in line with national trends.
Read more: Editorial: Our landfill is wasting away
Of the rubbish collected in kerbside bags 58 per cent was recyclable - 41 per cent of which was compostable kitchen waste.
Waste from wheelie bins was 85 per cent recyclable or compostable, 75 per cent made up of kitchen and garden waste.
In total, at least half of what was being sent to landfill could have been composted and recycled, and of the other 50 per cent many items were divertable, such as TVs, batteries, plaster board and other electronic waste.
Part of the solution the councils proposed was to educate people more on recycling options, and retain kerbside collection but with some changes.
Under consideration for community feedback was replacing council rubbish bags (increasingly considered a health hazard for collectors) with either 120 litre or 80 litre wheelie bins and provide urban households with a fortnightly 240 litre wheelie bin for mixed paper, plastic and metals, and a fortnightly collected 60 litre crate for glass.
Plastic rubbish bags may still, however, be used for hard-to-access and rural properties.
The plan also proposed providing 240 litre weekly-collected wheelie bins for green garden waste and kitchen food scraps.
Hastings councillor and committee member Rod Heaps said that with the landfill having a finite lifespan, it was critical to address the volume issue.
"Overall, the Omarunui landfill has a remaining life span of 40 years - when that runs out we have got some real challenges ahead of us - we are trying to reduce the input by 50 per cent and extend that life as much as we possibly can."
Committee chairwoman and Hastings councillor Tania Kerr said the aim was to do this in the most environmentally sound and cost efficient way possible, and that reducing the green waste being dumped was the option that could have the biggest impact.
To date two focus groups had been held with a small number of residents to get feedback, and Mrs Kerr said there was an assumption that the green waste was good for the landfill for its gas generation, but this was not the case.
Last month Mr Heaps attended the WasteMINZ annual conference and said the main theme on a national level was the need for a culture and behaviour change around waste disposal.
"We need to change the 'chuck it in the bin and it's someone else's problem' attitude."
A tool to change this thinking was to consider several Rs, he said, including refuse - was the product really needed or a similar one without plastic packaging available, reduce, recycle and re-use.
Such thinking would form part of the educational strategy the councils hoped to introduce as part of the overall waste minimisation objectives.
The draft minimisation plan would go to both councils to be adopted next month and public consultation was scheduled to take place from February 1 to March 2 next year.