A fund aimed at new waste minimisation measures will be used to maintain the recycling of paper and cardboard in Whanganui while global prices lag.
The matter was discussed by the Whanganui District Council's infrastructure, climate change and emergency management committee on Thursday . The Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre (WRRC) is faced with a bill of around $96,000 to continue sending paper and cardboard for recycling this financial year, and a possible $240,000 bill in the next year.
Councillors voted to fund the shortfall - to a maximum of $96,000 - from the council's waste minimisation fund in this financial year. They closed the meeting to the public to decide whether to use rates to fund the 2020-21 shortfall.
The price for fibre in paper and cardboard dropped drastically late last year after China stopped taking it. There is now a glut on the world market, council contractor Stuart Hylton said. New Zealand product is sold to Oji Fibre Solutions at that low international price, and it costs the WRRC to process, bale and transport it.
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But sending Whanganui's annual 1000 tonnes of paper and cardboard to landfill would cost even more, waste minimisation chairman and councillor Rob Vinsen said.
And ceasing to collect paper and cardboard, a "long term bastion of recycling", would send the wrong message to recyclers in the community.
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The council gets $160,000 a year in a waste minimisation fund which it distributes to waste minimisation activities. It spends about $50,000 from the fund each year on education and has more than $300,000 available, Hylton said.
The fund is not intended for everyday recycling operations and there are initiatives ready to apply to it for funding - including one that seeks to divert building and demolition waste, a major component of which goes to landfill.
Hylton was reluctant to curtail those other initiatives by using the fund to prop up paper and cardboard recycling. Doing so for a year would allow time for other options to develop.
Councillors were told the price drop is affecting councils nationwide, with Auckland facing a bill of $9 million. There is lots of discussion nationally about alternatives, with suggestions the Government's Provincial Growth Fund could be used to fund them.