Open slather for kerbside rubbish scavenging is predicted after Auckland Council yesterday dropped a clause from its proposed waste bylaw which aimed to make it an offence.

Councillor Cathy Casey objected to the clause, which was intended to reduce harm and nuisance caused by people smashing apart televisions and other goods for steel and copper wire.

"This bylaw will make it an offence for me to pick up a treasure from inorganic collections. It will make it an offence for somebody to have put it there.

"It is ridiculous. It's overkill."


Yesterday, governing body acting chairwoman Penny Webster said she opposed the clause being dropped, saying it had been debated by the regulatory and bylaw committee, passing after a split vote.

She wanted the clause to go ahead to the public consultation on the draft bylaws which opens for submissions on August 3.

The bylaw is to cover the whole region and back up the council's bold plan to cut waste to landfill approved last month.

North Shore, Waitakere and Auckland City already cover unauthorised collection for commercial gain and making a mess but existing bylaws will be revoked in October.

The plan says that by 2015 all ratepayers will be offered one rates-funded on-site inorganic collection a year which must be booked through the council.

Until then, areas will get at least one more collection where they put their unwanted items out on the kerb of a public road at a date that is set by the council.

Infrastructure and services manager John Dragicevich said Auckland was one of the few places which had inorganic collections and the council was not getting value from them because scavengers picked out the best items for resale.

It cost $1 million a year to clean up illegal dumping.

The bylaw was designed to deal with the worst-case scenario and he had confidence in council staff to use common sense in enforcement.

"There won't be rubbish police coming round because there is a couch on the berm," he said.

Councillor Richard Northey said removing the clause would allow big commercial firms to scavenge, putting at risk the plan to set up a network of recycling centres.

He said the collectors were "smart, savvy people".

Councillor Dick Quax said the mess made by scavenging was exaggerated and Arthur Anae said: "Are we going to try to fine people when they are trying to survive?"

The dropped clause read: "No person may deposit for collection on, or collect and transport inorganic material from, a public place."

* August 3-September 3: Public consultation on problems of nuisance, public health and safety.
* October 31: New bylaw adopted and existing ones revoked.