It's a bit like owning a winning lottery ticket.

Instead of lazy holidays and flash cars, humble rubbish stickers have a more utilitarian role.

But a shortage of the pre-paid stickers has caused what one official described as several weeks of rubbish chaos and has seen the stickers become highly sought-after.

The city's sole supplier ran out and when an order for more with a commercial printer was accidentally placed on back-order, thousands of Whanganui residents turned to social media to complain and ask which retailers had stickers available.

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The answer: not many, and perhaps none.

Fortunately relief should be at hand.

Private waste collection company Waste Management who issue the stickers says normal service has resumed.

Waste Management is the only company that collects rubbish bags in the city after the other private provider moved to deal only with bins.

David Howie, Waste Management's general manager for the lower North Island, said there had been a delay in supplying stocks of rubbish stickers to Whanganui retailers.
"The stickers from our print supplier had been placed on back order which we weren't aware of," Howie said.

"They were temporarily out of stock at retailers. We had offered an alternative for people to be able to bring their bags to the transfer station and pay the sticker price to dispose of them."

Howie said new supplies of stickers were delivered to retailers on Monday and Tuesday and most should now have stocks.

He was not aware of how many people had contacted Waste Management about the issue but said there had been "a number of people" taking rubbish bags to the transfer station and calling about the service.

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"We understand it's a very important service so any interruption is not something we would like to have," Howie said.

"We are continuing to service collections in Whanganui and our intent is to be a long-term provider for waste and recycling collection in Whanganui."

Howie said at this stage Waste Management intended to continue its rubbish bag service but methods of collection could change in the future.

Whanganui District Council waste advisor Stuart Hylton said the council had been fielding calls about rubbish bags not being picked up and the unavailability of stickers, despite not being involved in rubbish collection.

The council had received about four to six queries per day over the past few weeks and these had been passed on to Waste Management.

There had been no noticeable increase in fly tipping, Hylton said.

The council is considering alternatives for rubbish and recycling collection after private provider Envirowaste's decision to stop collecting rubbish bags in the city and concern about whether Waste Management would continue its bag collection.

"The council is looking at surveying the community about whether they would support various council-led kerbside collection options," Hylton said.

"The community survey is likely to ask questions about both kerbside waste and recycling collection services. A draft household survey will be brought to the council's strategy and finance committee in August 2018 and is likely to be sent out after that."

A report to the council's strategy and finance committee in March estimated kerbside recycling would cost about $60 a year per residential ratepayer, which would add about 1.5 per cent to rates.


Frustrations vented

Whanganui residents have vented their frustration about the rubbish collection and lack of stickers on social media. Here is a selection of comments:

Megan Johnson: No rubbish stickers in Wanganui supermarkets, I was told put my bag out anyway as it's not the customer's fault there's a shortage of them printed.....my bag wasn't picked up though.

Shirley Hastings: I rang the collectors, they took my particulars, and said I would get a free pick up due to there being no stickers! HELLO! MY RUBBISH IS STILL SITTING ON THE KERBSIDE!

Shane Flynn: Shouldn't have to pay to have a private contractor to pick up our rubbish.....should be part of rates.....how about doing the essential WDC n not wasting bloody money on St Hill Street and the waste of time changes to paths n road...

Coralyn Dugdale: I think it's a bit of a have when it should be included in rates, seems antiquated to go buy stickers for plastic rubbish bags which on themselves aren't that practical or clean compared to wheelie bins.

Janet Hartell: They wouldn't pick our bag up last week, a sticker put on the bag that it was not a normal bag… this sux…

Zee Herdman: The Whanganui District Council should be reading your discontent about the rates and rubbish etc. I had to buy yellow PLASTIC bags and we are banning plastic bags… no logic. A lot of things simply don't make sense.