People will soon get used to changes at Rotorua's In-Town Recycling Centre, even though they were sudden and unexpected, district councillor Janet Wepa says.

Mrs Wepa, the Rotorua Lakes Council's Sustainable Living portfolio leader, told the Rotorua Daily Post she was not aware of the recent changes, but the council was set to embark on an education initiative in the hope people would fully understand why they were being made.

Changes at the Te Ngae Rd recycling centre - which include all plastics going in one bin, no more polystyrene recycling and charges for the disposal of most electronic items - have upset and confused some Rotorua residents who, like Mrs Wepa, had no idea they were being made.

The council has recently contracted Smart Environmental to provide kerbside rubbish, recycling and litter services for the district.


Smart Environmental chief operating officer Blair Griffiths said putting all plastics together for transport was more efficient.

Fees to dispose of electronic waste will range from $1 for a laptop battery to $27 for a TV (non-flat screen) and $60 for a photocopier.

Polystyrene products will be redirected to landfill.

"I haven't been aware of the changes, I got the news the same way anyone else did in the last few days," Mrs Wepa said.

"Perhaps we have been a little slow in getting this information out. But, we are doing things quite differently now and with contractors taking over the day to day running of the centre there were always going to be some changes.

"We want our services to be sustainable and cost effective for the whole community."

Mrs Wepa said she hoped the changes would not encourage more people to dump rubbish illegally.

"I hope people take more responsibility for their own waste. If they can afford a new product, like a TV or fridge, one would hope they would know what to do with the old one."

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the council paid about $140,000 a year to collect and dispose of electronic waste and it was only fair it was paid for by users.

"Everyone's been focused on the new bins, but we all knew that under new management changes would happen. Co-mingling is an issue for some people who are used to sorting out their recycling."

She said recycling changes and increased charges at the Rotorua landfill would not increase illegal dumping.

"I think there are people who will always do that. Community clean up days can be useful and we can co-fund these initiatives."

She said the council's new waste strategy was only months away from being "fully integrated" and people were only just learning about the new processes.

"I can see why people have rocked up to find changes have gone ahead and they are a little unhappy."