Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Utter rubbish: Our worst dumping spots (+video)

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Illegal rubbish dumping in and around Rotorua has been described as "escalating at an alarming rate", prompting calls for more to be done about the issue.

Worn furniture, old televisions, dirty clothing, council-issued rubbish bags and general household waste are some of the items seen at prevalent "dump sites" along State Highway 5, coming into the city.

As well as state highways, popular dumping sites in Rotorua include Mt Ngongotaha, Paradise Valley Rd and Waipa.

But Rotorua Lakes Council, despite acknowledging illegal dumping is an ongoing issue, has not prosecuted anyone in the past 12 months and has no plans to engage in "sting" operations to catch culprits.

Tony Blatchford drives along State Highway 5 every day to get to work in Rotorua.

He said he had seen an increasing number of dump sites along the highway and feared for the reputation of New Zealand.

Read more:
Illegal dumping a community problem (+video)

"I've lived here for five years and the rubbish dumping has never been this bad. It's getting worse and paints a poor picture to all the tourists who are driving past on their way into Rotorua. These visitors are told New Zealand is clean, green and beautiful but then they drive along our state highways and see all this junk.

"I come from South Africa where plastic bags are almost the national flower - I don't want to see New Zealand become like that."

Mr Blatchford said the major dumping spots were on and around the Mamaku turnoff from State Highway 5. He said many of the pull-in bays along the highway were now littered with rubbish.

"I'm driving past every day and I see old furniture - like whole lounge suites and mattresses, council rubbish bags, clothing, broken whiteware, electronics left there so long weeds are growing around them... You name it, it's there."

He said the council needed to do something about the issue to ensure the roads around Rotorua were litter-free.

"It's surprising how far people are willing to drive out of town just to dump their rubbish. It would be good if the council did something to incentivise people to not dump their rubbish.

"It would be a real hindrance to Rotorua's growth if this issue isn't fixed - it has been escalating at an alarming rate."

Council chief operating officer Dave Foster said the council had not noticed an increase in illegal dumping but "acknowledges it is an issue that requires constant monitoring".

"Illegal dumping is a nationwide issue and councils across the country, in general, carry out community-led cleanups in order to educate the general public to minimise incidents of illegal dumping. Most of the rubbish we see at these sites could be recycled, composted or put out in the weekly rubbish collection so it is our aim to show the community that they have these options.

"We want to stop illegal dumping from happening but it will take a community-wide effort to really have an impact."

Mr Foster said visual pollution through illegal dumping had an undesirable impact on the community's image.

"Because state highways and remote areas are popular places for dumping it does leave a negative impression for our visitors travelling to Rotorua as well as locals."

Council transport and waste solutions director Stavros Michael said the council had not prosecuted anyone for illegal dumping in the past 12 months because the cost in taking legal action was uneconomic.

"The council prefers to use community education and partnership to minimise such activities.

"We have no plans to engage in 'sting' operations as there is no evidence that proves such operations reduce incidents of illegal dumping. We would rather use the resources we have to focus on working with the community to educate the public."

He said free landfill days were not being considered at the moment but may be revisited.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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