Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Cut your rubbish and pay less plan mooted

Auckland Council is looking at unifying how householders are charged for refuse. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland Council is looking at unifying how householders are charged for refuse. Photo / Dean Purcell

Auckland households will get a bill for rubbish collection as they do for gas and electricity if a bold redesign of the way the region handles waste goes ahead.

A move to user pays for all households will be proposed to Auckland Council on Thursday.

About 45 per cent of the region pays for collections through prepay bags and the rest get them as part of their council rates.

However, the draft waste plan for 2015-16 suggests one system for all which it calls disposer-pays.

A financial incentive is offered in return for reducing the volume of household waste - about 800kg a head - that goes to landfill via the domestic collection.

The plan calls for a fortnightly collection using wheelie bins - with a choice of bin capacity from 80 litres (the volume of two rubbish bags) to 240 litres (six bags).

The collection will cost about $2.50 per lift for an 80 litre bin and will not be charged by weight, said council's infrastructural and environmental manager John Dragicevich.

However, disposer-pays will not apply to a fortnightly kerbside recycling collection using wheelie bins instead of crates.

This will come from rates and other funding sources.

Local boards expressed a preference for a three-bin collection system.

The plan proposes the third bin could be a weekly organic waste kerbside collection - paid from rates and other sources, perhaps, a small surcharge on council waste services.

The aim was to reduce the amount of food and green waste in the domestic collection and one bin displayed - like a travel case with a handle - had compartments for separating types of organic wastes.

About half the weight of the average rubbish bin or bag is 10 per cent green waste and 40 per cent food waste.

A collection for inorganic waste would be provided across the region but whether it was annually, costing $10 million, or every two years was up for debate.

Mr Dragicevich said it was hoped that disposer-pays would reduce the waste going to landfill by 30 per cent by 2027 and also lower the level of rates.

At present, waste and recycling services cost Auckland Council $90 million - $65 million of it from rates and $25 million from prepaid bags and the waste levy. The proposed actions in the draft plan added up to about $30 million, bringing the total cost of services and facilities to about $120 million.

Of this, $66 million would come from rates and $54 million from user charges.

"But the cost depends on what proposals are favoured from a smorgasbord of options."

The proposal is that households will choose the rubbish bin size and the smaller the bin the less they pay for collection.

Each rubbish bin would have a barcode which recorded the number of times the bin was lifted and emptied.

That cost would be deducted from a prepaid customer account.

If a bin was not put out for fortnightly collection, there would be no charge.

The draft waste management and minimisation plan goes to the council regional development and operations committee on Thursday.

If it is adopted, it will go out for public comment from November 10 to December 15.

The council will conduct formal hearings of those views in February-March.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said there would be no change in services and how rubbish collection was paid before 2015.

An exception might be Rodney, where a 240 litre wheelie bin collection for recyclables is proposed for 2013.

- NZ Herald

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