Thousands of people have disappeared from Christchurch's earthquake-smashed eastern suburbs. And so it seems have wheelie bins.

A city council staff report reveals around 9200 wheelie bins are unaccounted for in the red zone, much of which is abandoned as residents move elsewhere.

They have based that figure, an estimate, on the number of bins that should have been picked up by city council staff when the homes are vacated.

Each home should have been allocated a red, yellow and green bin.


City council staff believe they have been stolen, taken by their owners to their new addresses, or they have simply succumbed to bulldozers demolishing homes or consumed by the unchecked growth of foliage and weeds.

The cost to ratepayers could be very expensive.

Since the February 2011 earthquake the city council has had 2872 requests to replace wayward wheelie bins.

But it's not city council policy to do that. It has rejected all of these requests rather than forking out $1,148,000 to replace them.

The city council environment and infrastructure committee will today consider recommending a change to the current kerbside collection service rules.

The change would see the city council replace some bins in "special circumstances". What those circumstances include would have to be worked out.

If someone walks onto a property and steals a bin, it's treated the same as any other theft - the matter is between the property owner and their insurance company.

Insurers can expect to pay $342 to replace a standard set of bins.

But kerbside disappearances are a different matter altogether.

Wheelie bins should be guarded at the homefront and only allowed to perch by the road between 5pm on the day before collection and 11pm on the day of collection.

Outside those hours, the bins are left on the roadside at their own peril.

If your green, orange or red bin is stolen during that 30 hour collection window and the owner lets the council know within 24 hours, the contractor will replace the bin at no cost to the ratepayer.

But if your kerbside bin is snatched outside of that timeframe the property owner has to pay for replacement bins.