Foreign takeovers, political schism, rates rises, job losses and betrayal by bureaucrats - the six yearly review of Tauranga City’s rubbish collection is proving a rich brew.
Tauranga City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee is today expected to seek public feedback on a complete turnaround in the way the city’s rubbish is collected – and who pays for it.
John Cruikshank is nervous about the future.
The proposal, as it stands, calls for every household to have four plastic rubbish bins, and for the collection to be ratepayer funded.
If the city council continues to push for the rates increase model, it will also mean locally owned rubbish collectors Kleana Bins will have to lay-off about two thirds of its staff, says Kleana Bins director John Cruickshank.
Collecting rubbish from the four new ratepayer funded plastic rubbish bins will go to one of the foreign owned rubbish collectors.
Kleana Bins and Bin Boys are locally owned and operated, the rest are foreign owned.
Environmental Green Bins is owned by Waste Management which is believed to be owned by a Chinese corporate called Beijing Capital. The other big residential operator, JJ Richards is Australian owned, trading through a New Zealand registered company. Envirowaste which operates the transfer stations is also Chinese owned.
The council is basing the call for change on a claim that 30 per cent of rubbish is food waste. John doesn’t believe that and asked the council to do a bit of sampling.
He offered to loan a truck so city council staff could collect a couple of dozen bins every day for a week, and sort through the rubbish, picking out the food waste, green waste, recycling and whatever other rubbish they find.
“Council staff says we’ll do that after we have taken a decision,” says John.
The regime change is based on unsupported figures that John describes as ‘absolute crock’.
Council staff and consultants originally claimed the average Tauranga household spends $600 a year on rubbish collection, and that the four bin rates funded regime will cost only $170.
The real cost is $250-$260, says John.
“They have revised the claim down to $313, but I think that’s still way above what the real figure is. Unless somebody does some serious market research we are not going to know.
“My average customer in Tauranga spends about $280 a year, but we have a lot of door to door bins which are more expensive. We think our average is a bit higher than some of the others.
“There would be a lot of elderly people who perhaps only have a recycle bin from a contractor and on top of that put out one bag of rubbish every three or four weeks, so they are only spending about $100 a year,” says John.
“I’ve got plenty of customers who have one small bin and they get it emptied every four weeks because that’s what they need, and they are spending about $100 a year or so. I’m pretty confident the average is more like $250.”
The council figure was just the collection cost and didn’t include the disposal cost of trucking the rubbish to the Waikato and paying for it to go in the landfill, says John.
“You can add $100 to that minimum.”
Nor is it factoring in the massive capital cost of providing every city household with four bins.
“I don’t think their figures are credible.”
Three cities with good information about ratepayer funded rubbish collections on tier websites are Christchurch, Timaru and Whakatane.
They have three-bin systems instead of four bins, and the costs range from $260-$270 a year, says John.
“Based on that my guess is by the time you add a fourth bin on you are not going to get any change out of $230-$240.”
The six yearly review of rubbish collection is a legal requirement under the Waste Minimisation Act of 2008, which requires the councils to reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill and to recycle more.
The proposed rubbish collection change is in response to a report by Eunomia Research and Consulting which claims that neither the western bay of plenty district or Tauranga City councils achieved recycling targets set in the previous WMMP in 2010.
City Councillor Matt Cowley says the decision facing council is not final or binding and simply allows the council to claim government funding to further explore the issue.
“The decision that we will pretty much next week proposing to adopt the waste minimisation plan, essentially that’s to say should we look at this in more detail,” says Matt.
“The decision through the plan is ‘there’s an opportunity here should we look at it further’.
“So the plan will enable us to apply for central government funding to do further investigation.”
The earlies the city council could possibly do it is after 2019 with the new council, says Matt.
“What we are doing is making a decision to look into it further. That’s the only commitment. The next council, it will be on their agenda and if they don’t want a bar of it they can stop it.”