By Samantha Motion
Smelly rubbish sitting around for two weeks, overlapping bill, seniors having to drag heavy bins around - and no opt-out.
These are some of the concerns emerging about a council-run kerbside waste collection service starting next year, which has city opinions split.
On Tuesday Tauranga City Council confirmed the costs and plans for the rates-funded service, after awarding the up to 10-year collection contract to Chinese-owned EnviroWaste.
The move has been in the works since 2016, with the council making the call in 2018 to create its own service after strong public feedback in support.
The council has run public consultations with rough costs and options, but the final arrangements were decided behind closed doors in August after a confidential procurement process, with the council electing not to do a final round of consultation on the details.
So this week was residents' first look at exactly what they would get - and the reaction has been decidedly mixed.
The service has fortnightly rubbish, recycling and glass collections plus a weekly food scraps pick-up for $230 a year, with an optional monthly garden waste collection for $60.
There is no opt-out for the core service, which will be charged through a targeted rate (a 7 per cent rates increase), but there will be different bin sizes available in the second year with different costs that have yet to be decided.
The council says the new service will suit most households and save them money while halving the waste households send to landfill by 2028 and stopping multiple trucks going down each street each collection day.
Some people are happy to see Tauranga catch up to most other New Zealand councils' similar offerings, and say it will save them money and help reduce waste.
But others say the system won't work for them. The bins are too small or too big, the pick-ups too infrequent, and the cost too much on top of existing rates - especially where the service is not wanted in the first place.
Matua resident Simon Meredith said he paid about $430 a year for a commercial service that included weekly rubbish bin pick-ups.
"I don't mind if the council takes over. My concern is around only doing rubbish every fortnight," he said.
"Rubbish tends to be a bit smelly."
"I don't quite understand why it still can't be weekly. EnviroWaste does it weekly as it is."
He said the council's service was cheaper, but that did not mean much when the offering was not the same standard. He was considering having a commercial provider collect his rubbish in the off-weeks.
"It's not just about the money, it's also about the service."
A council spokeswoman said the weekly food scraps collection would help remove some of the smelly items and, in combination with recycling, households would produce less rubbish for landfill.
She said the service would suit the "vast majority" of household and there would be "additional capacity" provided where needed for an extra cost, but had no further details yet.
Meredith was also concerned people might still be stuck paying out the end of private contracts when the rates charge starts on July 1.
The council previously said it would give residents at least a year's notice to avoid that situation, but Tuesday's announcement came just over nine months out.
That means there might be some overlaps for people on new year-long contracts.
Asked what the council would do for people in that situation, the spokeswoman said the council wanted to give a full year's notice but Covid delayed decisions.
"The existing contract for the council rubbish bag service expires on June 30, 2021, so it's essential we have the new service up and running by July 1, 2021.
"We are also anticipating increased demand for our rubbish bag collection service in the lead up to the launch."
The council's website tells people to contact their provider "if you do not intend to continue to use their services from July 1, 2021"
Welcome Bay resident Dani Bahr said the council could not please everyone, but the new service would suit her family of four.
"It will save us about $100 a year."
She had already told her landlord to put the rent up $5 a week when it started.
"It's our rubbish, I don't see why someone else should have to pay for it."
Bahr was paying a private company $6.75 per week for fortnightly rubbish and monthly recycling collections.
The council service worked out to $4.42 per week and the recycling pick-up would be more frequent, "which will be good for us".
And the food waste bin and glass crate would lessen what went into the rubbish bin. She also hoped it would reduce illegal dumping.
"Tauranga City Council makes some crappy decisions, so it's good to see them making a good one."
Avenues resident Les, who did not want his last name used, said he wanted to keep using the council rubbish bags and taking his recycling to the transfer station - a low-cost option.
He would have to store his bins in his backyard and drag them over a patio for every collection - a task he feared would get harder as he aged.
"If I don't want a big bin, why should it be forced upon me?"
He was "flabbergasted" service details had not been announced until it was a "done deal", and said people should be allowed to opt-out.
The council said the current opt-in service sees 70 per cent landfill waste that could be composted or recycled, and that spreading the cost across a convenient centralised, city-wide service ensured it would have impact and be cost-effective.
- Each household will be delivered three new bins in addition to their existing 45l glass crate: A 140l rubbish bin, 240l recycling bin and 23l food scraps bin.
- Food scraps will be collected weekly and everything else will be picked up fortnightly.
- The cost will be $230 in the first year, charged through a targeted rate and including the existing $37 glass charge. That's a 7 per cent rates rise.
- It will cost an extra $60 if you choose to add a garden waste bin, collected monthly.
- From year two, people will be able to choose from more bin sizes for rubbish and recycling (80l, 140l, 240l) with different costs that have yet to be set.
How they voted
Tauranga City Council voted behind closed doors on August 25 on what the service would look like and cost.
The council has released the vote tallies following a request from the Bay of Plenty Times, but has refused to release to confidential report they considered due to ongoing commercial discussions.
Votes for the chosen option were:
For: Mayor Tenby Powell, deputy mayor Tina Salisbury, councillors Jako Abrie, Larry Baldock, Kelvin Clout, Bill Grainger, Heidi Hughes and Steve Morris.
Against: Councillors Andrew Hollis, John Robson and Dawn Kiddie.