Rubbish Bag Changes

The rubbish bag system changed from 1 July 2018. Instead of getting a voucher for 52 rubbish bags as part of your rates (or provided by your landlord), residents need to purchase bags from the supermarket or other retailer. We've answered some common questions about the changes below:

Why did we change systems?
Because making small changes in our everyday lives can make a powerful difference to our environment. Buying rubbish bags makes people think about how many they really need, and whether they could save money (and the environment) by recycling or composting some of that waste.

What other councils use this system?
Most Councils around New Zealand currently distribute their rubbish bags through retailers. In fact, we're the only one that we know of who is still providing rubbish bags as part of the rates.

Our rubbish and recycling collection contract is a joint contract with Thames Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils. Both of these areas already operate a user pays system where rubbish bags can be purchased from retailers. Our new approach will bring us in line with these two other councils who are part of the joint waste contract.

How it has been received - has it done its job and cut back on waste in landfill?
Most of the councils with user pays bags shifted to them a long time ago, and generally didn't have good ‘before and after’ data, but could anecdotally say that the shift to user pays had a positive impact on the amount of waste going to landfill.

We already know that the changes we made in recent years (e.g. shifting to the wheelie bins for recycling) have made a positive difference – because our community has reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by 18% in the last five years. But we think we can do better, and this change to the rubbish bags is one of several waste minimisation initiatives that Council is investigating to do this.

How much do bags cost?
Bags now cost $2 per bag from 1 July 2018.

How will Council control the cost of the bags through supermarkets/retailers?
We will continue to supply the bags to the supermarkets/retailers and will provide these with a recommended retail price of $2 – but we can’t control what they sell them for. You’ll still be able to buy bags from Council offices though, plus we’re going to make it easier for you to buy them by selling them online

I still have bags from last year, will I still be able to use these?
Yes, the new bags are the same as the existing rubbish bags. You can use up any old MPDC rubbish bags before having to purchase new ones.

What colour and size will the new bags be?
The rubbish bags for sale through retailers are exactly the same as the bags previously provided by Council. They are black, with the MPDC logo on them, and the same capacity.

How will this affect my recycling bins?
It won't. There is no change to the recycling system - you'll still have a crate for your glass and a wheelie bin for all other recyclables, which you put out fortnightly.

Will I still be able to dispose of rubbish bags free at the transfer station?
Yes. Rubbish in official MPDC rubbish bags can currently be disposed of for free at transfer stations – this will remain the same under the new system.

How will you know if this is actually reducing waste?
All the rubbish collected in our district and delivered to landfill is weighed – that’s how we know that our community has already reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by 18% in the last five years. But we think we can do better.

What else are you doing to reduce waste?
We currently run a Zero Waste program in schools as well as contributing to Enviroschools to help our children learn about reducing waste and protecting our environment.

We’re also currently investigating a number of additional options to help reduce waste (such as a resource recovery centre like the Thames Seagull Centre and investigating rural recycling options). These projects will be investigated over the next few months with the costs covered by the Waste Minimisation Levy (which we get from government for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill), instead of funded through rates.

For home owners

How will this affect my rates?
The rubbish and recycling portion of your rates will go down significantly (from $153 to around $30).

This means if you only buy 52 rubbish bags (the same number you were previously allocated), you will be paying less overall for rubbish and recycling services (i.e. your targeted rate for solid waste will drop by $123, and 52 bags will only cost $104).

You will still pay around $30 per year in your rates for solid waste – this (together with income from the rubbish bags) will be used to pay for the kerbside collection contract.

For tenants

My landlord usually provides me with bags – are they still required to provide me with 52 bags per year?
That is up to the landlord. We recommend checking your rental agreement and discussing this with your landlord or property manager.