Rubbish Is Council Business

Kapiti Districtwide Cr Jackie Elliott

Kapiti Council must reinstate yellow bags…and proper council waste services

By Districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott ( representative on the Wgtn Regional Waste Forum)
As a Kapiti districtwide councillor, I am now calling on the Council to reverse its privatisation of waste services, and provide a proper service to ratepayers who want to cut waste. And this includes restoring the popular — and environmentally-friendly — yellow bag service.

“In recent weeks Kapiti has seen the loss of two services from private companies. The response, reaction and potential outcomes couldn’t have been more different and has left me wondering where priorities lie.”

‘A wall of noise’

Outrage took off as Air NZ grounded its Kapiti service

When Air NZ announced the end the Kapiti-to-Auckland flights, the public outcry was rightfully a wall of noise. In KCDC, the Mayor, elected members and management went into overdrive expressing outrage, then got to work enticing other operators to fill the gap.

Offers of funding were made and existing infrastructure offered. They even stood at the airport terminal to survey existing user’s. National media were covering the story in hours.

Out there, the Chamber of Commerce were all over the papers and the Chair of KCDC’s new economic development agency arguing with the chamber.

Minister Shane Jones fires shots

In the blue corner, the opposition MP started a petition, meanwhile in the other corner Regional Economic

Shane Jones, Minister for Regional development

Development Minister Shane Jones fired shots at the Chief Executive of AirNZ and got a foul card from higher up, while small-town Mayors on the ground, also abandoned by AirNZ, applauded the angry Jones machine.

While all this was going on, Envirowaste announced the looming cessation of their weekly Kapiti kerbside pickup of our yellow 60 litre waste bags, and urged everyone to enter into an 80 or 120 litre or larger wheelie bin contract instead. The public outcry was once again rightfully a wall of noise. As Kapiti’s representative on the Regional waste forum, I started lobbying hard in council to ensure we keep the service.

This affects the hundreds, possibly thousands of households who still use the smaller bags over bins for a variety of reasons.

Some can’t physically cope with wheelie bins because their driveways are too steep; they can’t afford to, and shouldn’t have to, pay more than $5.99 at bag purchase time. But most simply don’t throw out that much rubbish They are avid recyclers doing everything right to reduce waste.

Why are Envirowaste stopping a bag service here because of (alleged) health and safety reasons, yet reinstating them in Auckland? Answer: so they can run the Auckland service at a loss long enough to knockout the competition, and I would imagine, cease bags again once they have a monopoly.

What are KCDC doing to save the service here? They asked the other three rubbish collection companies to take up the service. No-one was interested.

A history lesson!

Perhaps this is the ultimate price we all pay for a council who in 2012 100% privatised the provision of this service and leased out the management of the two transfer stations.

Right now we are hearing, ‘interference in private business, price fixing, kerbside pickup even being contestable in a court’. All this from those who are supposed to be in to bat for you, the public of Kapiti.

In my opinion this is not the voice of an effective negotiator. Why then did KCDC, with a 100% privatised service, sign the Wellington Regional Waste management and minimisation plan last November and commit to reducing waste to landfill by one third for every person within the next eight years?

Many have asked why council doesn’t bring the waste collection service including 60litre bags in-house again. This is a valid question as we deserve a fit for purpose rubbish collection service.

We have no landfill anymore and would either have to consent a new one, or pay the private companies who lease our transfer stations a cost per tonne to take council collected rubbish.

I think it is important that the public explore this option with the costs and the impact on rates in front of you, and those figures ( all estimates) were released last week. At worst, an 8% increase in rates, a service costing approx. $250 per annum per household.

Council, keep the bags, and let households who only throw out 20 litres of waste or so a week continue to do so, without penalty. After composting, recycling and repurposing, the landfill should be the last place our waste should go.

Provide a fit for purpose service and pay for it through the LTP.

(Note: As an aside, the waste from our transfer stations is trucked out to Waikawa Beach in the Horowhenua or up to Marton, we should all be completely embarrassed about that.)

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