Why the Kapiti Counmcil must take over rubbish services
By former KCDC Cr Lyndy McIntyre
During the 2007-2010 term, KCDC adopted kerbside recycling. Previously waste for the landfill was collected weekly in bags and residents could use recycling centres at various locations.
When KCDC decided to adopt kerbside recycling. The free recycling facilities in local communities were closed and KCDC began providing a bag collection (for waste to landfill) and a kerbside recycling bin. The incentive to reduce waste was the cost of the bags.
Then KCDC senior management proposed that the system be handed over to private contractors. The theory (now completely disproved) was that the competition between commercial contractors would keep the bag price (the only cost) down.
There was no suggestion that residents would be required to put a minimum number of bags out to sustain the contractor’s need to make a profit. On the contrary, there was a clear undertaking that a free kerbside recycling service would remain, and the implication was that the status quo of residents being able to reduce and minimise waste would continue.
Of course, the confidence KCDC management had in the market was ill-placed and the roots of the failure of the system occurred when KCDC exited providing the service as a ratepayer service.
That is because we now do not have a service which promotes waste minimisation and recycling. We have no service provided by our council and all the private services require a commitment to an annual fee for a waste to landfill container (wheelie bin) with recycling as the add-on.
In short, the current situation is:
- we have no participation or leadership from our council
- we have a fully privatised failed system
- we have no services which have waste minimisation incentives and zero incentives to recycle
KCDC promise broken
The promise made when the privatisation occurred — that a free kerbside recycling service would remain — has been broken. This can fixed by restoring a free (rate-payer funded) kerbside recycling service.
Others can do it. Why not us?
Recently I travelled through the Coromandel and was struck by the council kerbside recycling collection, even in far-flung areas on metal roads. Ratepayer-funded kerbside recycling/rubbish collections have continued in our neighbouring areas of Porirua, Wellington and Hutt City.
Kapiti is one of the councils participating in the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (2017-2023), which states: “Councils have a statutory role in managing waste and are required to promote effective and efficient waste management and minimisation within their districts.”
KCDC is failing to adequately or effectively promote waste minimisation in our district because the job has been left to commercial contractors who have not interest in this goal.
Kapiti prides itself on being and environmentally conscious district. How can this possibly be if we have no leadership from our council on waste minimisation and the whole issue has been handed over to private companies with not commitment to our district or waste minimisation?
Costs– to ratepayers and to the environnment
Of course, restoring a ratepayer-funded system would mean a cost to all ratepayers, regardless of whether they use this service or not. There is also an environmental cost to ignoring council’s responsibility to take leadership on waste minimisation.
KCDC’s previous actions in exiting kerbside recycling and rubbish collection has left a gap which has been filled by a range of options that have no waste minimisation incentive, such as large wheelie bins with the same cost attached regardless of the amount of waste from households).
Some households may choose to continue with the status quo. Our rates provide many such services that are not used by everyone in the community, such as sports facilities and libraries. This is certainly not a valid argument for not providing them.
The purpose of rates is to pay for the services communities need, which are good for the community generally and reflect our goals, one of which is waste minimisation.
It is time for KCDC to return to the provision of a kerbside recycling service with a waste to landfill collection service which incentivises minimising that waste (as the bags have done).
The KQ&A sheet states: “under the current system, instead of every household having to pay a set portion of rates for a set of rubbish and recycling service, each household can choose the service they would like to use, based on what providers are offering.”
However, every household does not have a service they would like to use as there is no service which achieves the goals of encouraging waste minimisation and maximising recycling!
Waste management is a basic service and should be provided by council. Let’s get it back.