Yellow Bag Anger

Deidre Kent

Environmentalists outraged by loss of  low-carbon service

By Deidre Kent, of Low Carbon Kapiti

So that’s the end of yellow rubbish bags is it? Envirowaste, finding it wasn’t making enough profit from the users of bags, will no longer sell the yellow rubbish bags.

If the Neighbourly site is anything to go by, with 107 replies to a question, outraged bag users, the very people who reduce waste, are saying they fill a bag every 2-6 weeks.

They need a real alternative now with a built-in mechanism for rewarding waste reduction.

Forced to pay for an un-needed service

A common comment is “I put one bag out every month and I object to being forced to pay $20 a month for a bin service that I would hardly ever use.”

Various Facebook sites are equally active and there is even a suggestion to dump black bags at the council on 24-25 March.

Since Council decided to hand rubbish collection to private companies in 2013, they have reduced their waste staff, have no waste committee and councillors tend to leave it all up to Cr Jackie Elliott, KCDC’s one representative on the Regional Waste Forum.

Performance doesn’t match talk

Against nice rhetoric about waste reduction and an official waste reduction target of 30% by 2026, our waste to landfill still increases.

KCDC gets poor data from the companies and they are losing control. They can no longer set prices at transfer stations because Otaihanga is

Envirowaste bins

managed by Midwest and Otaki is managed by Envirowaste.  

Kapiti puts out more than twice as much waste per capita as Christchurch, which does theirs completely in-house and collects organics. Tauranga is moving back to a rates-funded waste collection.

During the Council waste audit in September 2017 they found that 64.4% of bins content were either recycling or organics (food and garden waste).

The bigger the bin, the bigger proportion of green waste, which when buried produces methane, a greenhouse gas 20-30 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

‘Stop licensing 240 litre bins’

Our organisation, Low Carbon Kapiti wanted council to stop licensing 240 litre bins to reduce waste, but find this change could take years to implement.

Now overnight the option at the other end of the scale, used by people that throw out the least, has been taken away.

On Neighbourly there are some excellent suggestions for user pays e.g. using bins yet buying a tag to attach to it when you put it out, as in Auckland.

Paekakariki residents are particularly angry because they have no transfer station so they can’t take their black bags there.

So far Council’s response is entirely inadequate.

There are plenty of cities like Christchurch which have a single in-house waste collection system. This way the Council keeps control of how the waste is collected and what is done with it. They can use environmentally friendly methods which lead to reduced waste, composting and recycling. They can reward householders who produce the least waste. They can control the number of trucks which chug around damaging the streets and burning up fuel.
Our Council, which is an environmental leader in some ways, has got the waste system all wrong.
Council. Get rid of big bins, employ staff to collect waste, reward householders who recycle organic matter, glass, plastic etc. Make taking green waste to the landfill free.

When Councillor Elliott first alerted us to the decision by private contracted waste collectors to discontinue the weekly kerbside collection of 60 litre plastic rubbish bags across Kapiti, the Mayor’s response was “Councillor Elliot has shared information and views in her release that do not reflect the views of the wider Council or staff, some of which is also incorrect.”

I am now waiting for the Mayor to blame central government or health and safety for the removal of the yellow bags when clearly the responsibility is between the council and waste contractors and the licence agreements that both parties are supposed to adhere too.

Many members of the community echo Deidre’s view. Why should they be penalised by paying extra for a bin they do not need because they are saving waste.

There needs to a third way which credit is given to people who are using sustainable means to dispose of waste.

Come on Mr Mayor, support Councillor Elliott and show us you are made of sterner stuff.

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