Western Bay residents waiting seven days to have their recycling bins collected as part of a new kerbside service say the scheme has been a "nightmare".
And the fallout of the new collection service has resulted in local councillors demanding answers from those in charge, saying the council's reputation has been badly damaged.
On July 1, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council introduced the service in which rubbish, glass, recycling and food scrap bins would be regularly collected.
For Ōmokoroa resident Bill Harman, the first week of the collection service went well.
However, when his rubbish, glass and food scraps bins were put out the second week, only the rubbish bin was emptied.
Harman lives in Waterview Estate, a gated community with 95 properties that were also left waiting.
Harman said he reported the missed collection and was assured it was simply a glitch and the remaining bins would be picked up the following day. When they weren't, another phone call produced a similar response promising pick-up the next day, he said.
"Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday have been identical, with a number of different residents from the estate ringing and being fobbed off by people not in a position to tell us what is going on."
Harman was one of several residents trying to rouse a response from the council. In an effort to help collectors, the residents placed all bins on their single footpath that follows the estate's main road. The placement meant it was "virtually impossible" to use the footpath, creating a safety hazard, Harman said.
By day six, Harman finally received a call back from the council promising pick-up the next day, which was done about 4pm.
Harman said trying to get the bins picked up was a "nightmare". He was critical the kerbside collection was "forced" upon residents and appeared to be a waste of money if collections weren't actually happening.
His concerns were echoed by the council's elected members on Tuesday when they asked for a please-explain from the relevant contractor and staff.
At the Western Bay council Performance and Monitoring Committee meeting, chairman Don Thwaites said, "This is one of the biggest hits we've taken reputationally.
"I think we have some ground to make up. People are a little bit forgiving but ... we are getting a bit of a hit over these."
The comment came after a presentation from the kerbside collection team, including EnviroWaste project implementation and transition manager Brett Monkley.
Councillor Murray Grainger asked Monkley "what went wrong" with Waterview Estate.
"There's a whole estate not being collected for a couple of days."
Grainger said many residents were frustrated "and rightly so".
Councillor Allan Sole said he was heartened Monkley was presenting to them in person because "of us here, we've received bricks thrown at us and had eggs pelted at us over this issue".
Mayor Garry Webber questioned whether the council was the only one experiencing issues introducing kerbside collections. He said it would be helpful to have information from other councils regarding how they handled teething problems.
"Are we an outlier? I don't think so. If we could get that information it might help our council staff and councillors. We are actually doing okay, let's not jump off the cliff just yet."
Council operations manager Kerrie Little said there were four issues identified from the first two weeks of the service. They were: bins not delivered; missed collections; increased popularity of tags; and tags being cut off bins.
Little said there were 301 reports of missed bins in that time but "some customers may have contacted us twice".
She said there were some streets "where tags were being cut off in some form of protest by unknown sources" but there was little that could be done about it without more information.
"We are looking for emerging patterns… and will take further steps if appropriate."
Project manager kerbside services Ken Buckley acknowledged that missed bins were a concern and said truck drivers were instructed to pick up reported missed bins the next day. However, "there does seem to be a little bit of disconnect in what's happening. We are working on that."
Monkley admitted there was "confusion" among some drivers "getting used to runs" but this was improving.
He said it was important to note 60 per cent of reported missed collections were not being left out for pick-up.
"There has been a disconnect and that is not an excuse but it's a reason."
In response to Webber's comments, Monkley said the Western Bay was not alone in experiencing "teething issues" with the service, which he expected would take four to six weeks to settle.
"For such a wonderful council, it's probably slightly disappointing people are confused about that but we are dealing with human beings and lots of them … trust me, we will get it right."
After the meeting, in response to Harman's concerns, council deputy chief executive and group manager of infrastructure services Gary Allis said the council apologised to Waterview Estate residents.
The council told residents the missed bins would be collected on Saturday "but this did not occur".
An additional collection was arranged for this week, he said.
Western Bay's first two weeks of kerbside collection
- A total of 17,464 properties were serviced.
- Of these, 6034 are rural properties.
- There have been 61 requests from people opting out of the service.
- There have been 31 applications for assisted service.
- Bins are collected anytime between 7am and 6pm.