Rotorua organic waste collection to be considered

Auckland Council food waste collection kit in 2014. Photo / Dean Purcell / NZME.

Organic waste collection – and how exactly to do it - will likely soon be up for debate in Rotorua.

At a Rotorua Lakes Council strategy, policy and finance committee on Thursday, elected members unanimously recommended to the council to begin public consultation on the introduction of the service, which, if approved by the council, would begin in July 2024.

The council will now have to consider whether to move four organic waste collection options to public consultation, where the public will decide between the status quo or its preferred option.

A report for the meeting written by council waste and climate change manager Prashant Praveen stated the council’s preferred option was to collect food and green organics mixed weekly, and change to fortnightly rubbish collection.

If approved, consultation is likely to happen in May.

The report said each option was assessed for waste diversion efficiency, potential benefits and challenges, with costs estimated using a “comprehensive” cost model.

Waste audits had revealed 55 per cent of Rotorua’s municipal waste included food or garden organics, and compostable materials made up more than 60 per cent, the report said.

Organic waste also created greenhouse gases, and its diversion was identified as a priority in the council’s 2020 climate change action plan.

Diversion of organic waste was expected to result in a more than 50 per cent reduction of landfill waste, an 80 per cent reduction in general rubbish’s carbon footprint, and job creation of up to seven fulltime equivalent positions.

In 2020 the Government announced changes to the landfill levy and emissions trading scheme, which meant an increase in landfill taxes from $35 to $60 a tonne in July 2021, and it was expected to reach $120 per tonne by 2024, the report said.

"Thus, the diversion of organic waste is a significant step in mitigating the financial risks arising from the regulatory changes on landfills.

“[The] Government is now considering recycling standardisation in New Zealand, which may make food scraps collection mandatory for councils.”

In the meeting, council organisational enablement deputy chief executive Thomas Colle revealed the council would contract consultation services externally as council staff who usually oversaw consultations were “focusing” on other consultations.

Colle said the cost of the external contractors would be shared with elected members after the meeting.

The Long-term Plan Year 2 delivery discussion document is currently out for public consultation, which guides rate setting for the year.

In the meeting, Praveen said there was a “lag” between consultation and the implementation of the service because procurement would take time, and it would likely take time for the chosen contractor to build capacity to carry out organic waste collection.

He said the council was only considering rolling a service out to urban areas at the moment, but it would likely include Mamaku.

Praveen said he would prefer if all services could be done fortnightly to keep it simple, but there were health and safety and odour issues from not collecting food organics weekly.

Compost. Photo / Ted Baghurst / NZME.

Councillor Fisher Wang said the service was “desperately needed” and would help combat emissions and climate change.

Councillor Tania Tapsell said there was a cost to the proposed options but that was balanced by increased costs from the Government on general waste collection, which would be offset by an organic waste collection.

She said it therefore had environmental benefits but economic ones as well.

In the meeting, the committee also unanimously agreed to recommend to the council to adopt its 2022-2028 waste management and minimisation plan.

The plan underwent public consultation in February, and 31 out of 41 respondents agreed with the proposed plan.

The targets in the plan were a 30 per cent reduction in municipal waste to landfill; reduction in recycling contamination from 22 per cent to 12 per cent; Contamination-free glass collection; a 60 per cent reduction in kerbside food waste to landfill; and a 60 per cent reduction in kerbside green waste to landfill.

In the meeting, Praveen, who also presented on the waste management and minimisation plan, said some people had suggested things the council could not do, such as provide free recycling of electronic waste and increase the number of public recycling bins.

His presentation stated the former was too costly and the latter had too high a risk of contamination.

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said he believed people had “got into bad habits” with recycling after the Covid-19 lockdowns and asked if public education would be part of the plan.

Praveen said one-third of the actions in the plan were around education and engagement, and he believed the Government possibly introducing national standardisation of recycling would help.

Councillor Peter Bentley commended council on the work done on the plan and said the “sooner we can get this done, the better”.

Option 1: Business as usual – status quo with no organic waste collection

The council would not be able to meet its waste minimisation target

The council would face full impact of the changes in landfill levy and emissions trading scheme costs.

Option 2: “FOGO” - Food organics and green organics – the council’s preferred option

Would collect food and green organics mixed weekly, and change to fortnightly rubbish collection

Net cost over 10 years: more than $13 million

Average targeted rate: $50 per year

Average rate increase per year: one per cent.

Option 3: “FO” - Food organics only

Would collect food organics only weekly, and continue weekly rubbish collection

Net cost over 10 years: more than $24m

Average targeted rate per year: $92

Average rate increase per year: two per cent

Option 4: “GO”

Would collect garden organics only fortnightly and continue weekly rubbish collection

Net cost over 10 years: almost $11m

Average targeted rate per year: $42

Average rate increase per year: one per cent

Option 5: “FO and GO”

Would collect food organics weekly, and collect garden organics and rubbish fortnightly

Net cost over 10 years: more than $23m

Average targeted rate per year: $88

Average rate increase per year: two per cent

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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1 Comment


Posted on 19-04-2022 16:50 | By Kancho

See the government sneaking that word mandatory again this time for scrap food bins . We have them in Tauranga but suspect they are not used much ,I have never used ours but makes a nice bucket but I have to pay for it anyway. Food waste isn’t an issue for me. Of course a green bin is a good idea if you have a garden and lawns but of course many pay for lawns to be done and grass taken away. So it should be optional not like Tauranga where council forced through one size fits all with only token consultation. I would go back to our previous local contractors if I could but council have pulled the rug out from under them and given the work to a Chinese company

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