Michael Barnett's comments about Auckland Council staying out of the waste industry missed the mark.
Yes, Auckland Council has an ambitious goal - to engage every Aucklander to help our city become zero-waste by 2040.
But we know that reducing waste isn't easy; it involves many moving parts, behaviour change and most importantly; working closely with everyone in the waste industry.
Auckland Council's path to zero waste is clearly outlined in our new widely consulted Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, shortly to be released. It is a shared plan that incorporates feedback from ratepayers, community groups, the business sector, private waste management companies, all interested parties - and the Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce.
It is wrong to say we are now entering the commercial market. As most Aucklanders will know, we have always offered rubbish and recycling services and work in partnership with contractors to deliver these collections. However, our priority is always waste reduction, saving ratepayers money and tackling climate change.
We are committed to standardising waste services across the region, so all Aucklanders have access to consistent, reliable and equitable services.
It is very important that the council is involved with waste collection. Mr Barnett is simply incorrect to say that this should all be handed over to the private waste sector. We've all seen examples of councils handing over waste collection services to the private sector, only to see the business give up as soon as it stops being profitable. Just look at the situation residents were faced with in Whanganui and Kāpiti when private business decided to withdraw their collection services because it no longer made them money. In addition, private waste companies without the council's waste reduction targets and regulatory role have no obligation to help to reduce waste.
Aucklanders have told us they don't want the private sector alone to lead the waste industry. Feedback from our public consultation said they want Auckland Council to do more, go further, and step up its efforts to reduce waste.
Our communities want Auckland Council to play our part to reduce our impact on our environment and to protect our beautiful natural assets for future generations. Our current approach to waste has earned us global recognition and Auckland is leading a network of the world's megacities committed to addressing climate change, building on the work of cities like Waitākere, which pioneered sustainable community partnerships to reduce waste.
In our leadership role, we are seeking an increase to the waste levy from central government. This is based on overwhelming international evidence that shows that a higher levy rate incentivises waste reduction. We're working with other cities around NZ to introduce container deposit legislation to clean up our recycling waste streams and reduce litter.
We're proud of our progress so far and our close collaboration with local communities to reduce domestic waste to landfill by 10 per cent, and we are tackling the problem of illegal dumping head on.
Auckland Council's aspiration to be zero-waste by 2040 involves the largest transformation of household waste services in the Southern Hemisphere which is a vital part of achieving our vision for Auckland to become a world-class city.
• Penny Hulse is an Auckland councillor and chairwoman of the Environment and Community Committee.