If Whanganui councillors thought a household survey would make their decision over introducing ratepayer-funded waste collection any easier, the results prove otherwise.
The results of the October's household waste survey are in, and the community is split between the status quo and a council-led rubbish and recycling collection.
Just under 44 per cent of respondents want a rate-funded kerbside recycling and rubbish collection while 40 per cent prefer the status-quo (private rubbish collection and recycling drop off).
The remaining 16.2 per cent want a recycling-only kerbside collection.
The survey asked 17,500 urban households to choose between the three and got a 30 per cent (5293) return rate.
"That gives you good confidence going forward of the survey's statistical validity," council waste adviser Stuart Hylton said.
The results will be a starting point for the council to discuss what, if any, service it will provide in the future. Councillors are now due to meet with waste experts to discuss options further.
"People answered the survey in terms of their own needs but as a council, as you always do, you'll have to consider the survey results in terms of the overall good versus all the other issues that you have to deal with," Hylton said.
"For some people what's out there is working and is working well ... whereas others feel there is a better service for them that the market is not meeting."
Those who used rubbish bags were more inclined to want the status quo, whereas those with private wheelie bins were more inclined to want the full council-led rubbish and recycling service.
Smaller households were also more inclined to want the status quo compared to larger households.
"It makes sense to me and wasn't a result that wasn't unexpected," Hylton said.
"There's those that obviously held a concern around rates and how they will be affected by the decision council may or not make, and that's fair enough.
"I don't think a lot of people understand council's role in waste and how it works out there, so I think we've got a bit of a messaging issue there as well."
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall said it was more important now to get the public to understand the council's role in waste collection and any decision the council made should not be rushed.
"There's evidence of a misunderstanding of council's role in this. Council doesn't contract its rubbish services, it's free market out there," he said.
"This is too important to rush ..."
Councillor Rob Vinsen said the results didn't appear to provide a mandate for any one option in particular.
"What we have got a mandate for is entering the waste stream if the market fails."
And that's where there was urgency, he said.
"I don't think this is something we can put off ... if the market gets out of collecting bags."
Councillor Helen Craig said the results were just a starting point and expert consultants would be able to give the council a good steer on a complex issue.
"The survey is just a benchmark," she said. "It gives us a bit of an idea, starts to raise the issue with the community."