Time is rapidly running out for Tauranga residents to have their say on proposed changes to kerbside collections - with the main proposal to bring rubbish collection back within council operations.

"We're burying jobs and opportunities by sticking all this stuff in the landfill," Marty Hoffart of Waste Watchers said.

"Twenty-two years ago, council chose to look at a privatised model, as a user pays model, and that changed things because they were one of the only councils under that model. Most are a rates funded model.

"If you look at the research over the last 22 years, it hasn't reduced the amount of rubbish we're sending to landfill. It's actually increased in Tauranga."

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In fact, Tauranga has one of the worst rates in New Zealand for sending household waste to the landfill. Hoffart thinks he knows why.

"If you pay for something you want to get the best value out of it, and if you pay for your wheelie bin a year in advance, every day before rubbish, if there's space in it, you're going to find something to fill it up with.

"That could mean boxes of cardboard, grass clippings, a box of stubbies, clothing… that's been the problem. People want to fill that bin up even if it's stuff that really shouldn't be going to landfill."

The good news for Hoffart is that Tauranga City Council has recognised this problem and is proposing change.

"They want to pull it in as a rates funded service, so they can dictate the terms of the contract. That'll have a major impact on getting everyone to do the same thing. That's really what we need to do.

"We need everyone sorting out their food scraps, we need everyone recycling at the kerbside. Look what's happened with the glass – it's been a massive success because everyone's not putting it in their wheelie bins anymore."

Three new collections could be added but everybody has their own opinion based on their own needs.

Larry Baldock, Tauranga deputy mayor, says everybody wants to see that change.

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"We need to hear from the community," he said. "We've got to balance people who want to take care of their own stuff and pay accordingly, and people who will take a service that's for everybody. The more choice you give the more expensive it becomes. We're trying to keep this price down so that it is just a charge on rates. I'm not sure with how we're going to end up on this… it's not easy."

The proposed changes would bring Tauranga in line with most other New Zealand cities.

"About half of what comes from households every week is food and green waste," said Hoffart. "Around 30 per cent is food and about 17 per cent is green waste. So 50 per cent of every single wheelie bin or rubbish bag you see on the kerb every week is organics, and that can simply be composted locally."

Sending food scraps and other organic waste to the tip is bad for the environment because it creates methane, a greenhouse gas. Baldock isn't sure how it would work.

"Separating out food waste from others too in a bin… we're trying to get rid of plastic liners so you're going to have a bin that full of… how long's that before it starts to stink in the summer?" he said.

"This is why it's taken this much time. It's going slowly because we need to consider all these and make sure the cost estimates are going to be accurate. If you end up going up to $500 on rates it's getting pretty pricey.

"To make this change we need to know that the community are with us, for us, their voices are being heard, or that they are seriously concerned and we need to address that as well."

The deadline is Friday December 13th for Tauranga residents to have their say at www.talkingtrash.co.nz.

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