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Understanding the costs of kerbside collection

New Zealand (including our district) is facing some massive challenges with how we manage our rubbish and recycling. We’re getting a crunch point that is going to mean some big changes, and some major cost increases. We've already seen that in recent years with the increase in costs for rubbish bags, and targeted rates for kerbside collection customers are also likely to continue to increase over the next few years

This is a massive, complex issue, but in a nutshell:

  • Offshore markets are no longer accepting recyclables. This has significantly impacted the global market for recyclables, which in turn, has also significantly increased the costs of recycling collection and processing. This means Councils around the country are all facing much higher costs, just to deliver the same services we currently do.
  • New Zealand has invested in infrastructure that means we can recycle more onshore – but for that waste to actually be recycled, we need people to change their recycling habits (things need to be clean, and only plastic grades 1 and 2). Incorrect or contaminated recycling costs us more, which in turn increases your rates.
  • Government is working towards a more sustainable future. They have made positive changes like banning single use plastic bags, and contributing funding towards processing plants with new technology. They also plan to increase the Waste Disposal Levy (the tax on sending stuff to landfill), and use the increased income to invest in infrastructure that diverts waste from landfill. While this is a good idea, it means we will have to pay more to send rubbish to landfill, which in turn increases your rates.
  • There is a drive from the waste industry and local government to standardise kerbside collections – providing a wheelie bin for rubbish, a wheelie bin for plastic, paper and tins, a crate for glass and a small food waste bin. Standardising collections across the country would simplify collections and processing, meaning we could focus on recycling better, and diverting more rubbish from landfill. This approach supports our vision to work towards Zero Waste by 2038, and would be an improvement on our existing kerbside collection service – but that improvement comes at a cost, which would in turn increase your rates.
  • The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill sets targets for New Zealand to reduce both our methane emissions and all other greenhouse gases. This is important for combatting climate change, but will mean increases to the Emissions Trading Scheme (carbon tax), which will increase the cost of collecting and carting rubbish and recycling, which in turn will increase rates.

So like we said, it’s complicated. There are lots of factors driving up costs in this space, and some of them, we have little to no control over.  But on top that, we want to do the right thing. We want to be a community that is committed to minimising waste sent to landfill. A community that considers and implements, new initiatives and innovative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. And we want to minimise harm to our environment.