User-pay plan for inorganic pickups

Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Auckland's popular inorganic rubbish collections could be replaced by a user-pays household pickup that controls who gets first dibs on valuable items in the Super City's super pile of junk.

The change from the ratepayer-subsidised kerbside collections will be proposed in the Auckland Council's draft waste plan which goes out for public debate in September.

But the council must first decide whether to keep the collection.

A waste issues paper written for council and local board members says the service costs $5.3 million a year and a third of ratepayers do not use it.

It does not encourage waste reduction and leaves a mess of picked-over junk for councils to clean up, the paper says.

But adopting the inorganic booking service used in west Auckland since 2009 would meet public desire for a collection and the council's aspirational goal of zero waste to landfill, said councillor Wayne Walker, chairman of the environment and sustainability forum.

"The former Waitakere City Council operation is working well, and there is no reason it cannot be extended across Auckland.

"It is user-pays and material is diverted from the roadside and landfill."

Mr Walker said he liked the idea of a network of similar recycling depots throughout the region at which unwanted items were retrieved, repaired and sold on a Trade Me site.

"There's a good chance it could break even or make a profit."

An extension of the idea being discussed is subsidised resource recovery parks run by community trusts.

A park could sell unwanted items on Trade Me for a small collection fee and commission. Unsold items could be given away.

But one councillor believes few of his colleagues would support stopping the annual kerbside collection.

"We could be getting into a complicated system which is a change from what people have become used to and are reasonably happy with," said George Wood.

"By doing it through the rates, it spurs people to do a clean up and it's a great community activity ... "

There is no limit to the amount of waste that can be disposed of in the street collections of North Shore, Manukau and Papakura. But in the former Waitakere city council area householders are limited to the equivalent of two car bootloads a year.

They book three weeks ahead and prepay to be in their street's annual clean-out. The original $11.25 collection fee is now $23.

Street scavenging and mess are ended because discarded items are collected from inside the property.

Quality reusable household items are taken for processing at the Waitakere Refuse and Recycling Centre and sold on Trade Me. The centre also recovers metal, timber and cardboard.

Mr Walker said the Waitakere facility was the only one owned and operated by Auckland Council and the most able to salvage reusable items.

Waitakere's inorganic collection was 4500 tonnes in 2007-08 before the change and last year was 850 tonnes. The cost to ratepayers dropped from $639,000 to $160,000.

Because of the Rugby World Cup, the North Shore and Manukau inorganic collections have been rescheduled.

- NZ Herald

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