What residents are throwing in their rubbish is revealed in the Waipa District Council's latest solid waste audit.
The results show more than half (55 per cent) of items thrown into residents' household rubbish could have been diverted from landfill.
Food made up the largest portion of waste (36.6 per cent) with each household throwing away 3.6kg of food every week.
Council's waste minimisation officer Sally Fraser said food waste was a major problem in Waipā.
"We found a lot of meat, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as some perfectly good items like chocolate, crackers and biscuits."
A solid waste audit is an in-depth look at what residents are throwing out, including which items could have been recycled, reused, saved or eaten.
During the week-long audit, council contractors collected bags and bins from 253 randomly selected households on 44 streets for the audit.
They hand-sorted rubbish, separating items into categories and weighing them.
According to the results, Waipā households are throwing 1.4kg of plastic into their rubbish bins each week, or 14.6 per cent of all rubbish thrown out.
"We found that 21 per cent of plastics people are throwing away could have been recycled – like plastic types 1, 2 and 5," said Sally.
Each household is tossing 1.3kg of garden waste and organic material in the bin, including items like lawn and shrub clippings, kitty litter and hair.
"This makes up around 13.6 per cent of all waste, most of which could be composted at home."
Nappies and sanitary items were also common, with residents throwing away 1.2kg of this type of waste, or 12.3 per cent of all rubbish.
"The rubbish bin is the right place for nappies and sanitary items, although there are certainly alternative, low-waste products out there," said Sally.
Paper is also commonly thrown in the rubbish bin, with households throwing away 0.9kg paper every week, although more than half is recyclable.
Sally said the audit provided an extremely accurate overview of waste in Waipā.
"Waste audits are critical because they allow us to see which areas we should be focusing on to try to reduce waste as a district and get good recyclable materials out of the rubbish."
She said the rubbish bin should be the last option when residents are considering what to do with their waste.
"When we talk about throwing things away, there is no 'away' – it just goes to a landfill.
"We need to do everything we can to reduce the amount of waste we generate, reuse what we can more often, compost at home and recycle everything cleanly and correctly."
Sally said the full results of the Waipā waste audit will be presented to Council's Service Delivery Committee.
The council would continue to educate residents about how to deal with waste by running composting, worm farm and bokashi workshops, promoting local food sharing groups and supporting projects that target avoiding waste through its Waste Minimisation Community Fund.
The council is required to complete a solid waste audit at least once every three years by the Ministry for the Environment. No personal information was recorded or used in the audit.
To view a video of the waste audit and find out more visit waipadc.govt.nz/liftingthelid.