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Get Involved! Auckland Council's Proposed Waste Management and Minimisation Plan
Auckland Council is proposing a new system for household waste collection under the Auckland Waste Management and Minimisation Plan. With the long-term goal of zero waste, significant action will be taken in the plan to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Key Discussion Points:
- Wheelie bins across Auckland in varying sizes, user pays, collected fortnightly
- Enhanced kerbside recycling
- Organic collection
- Inorganic collection
The Draft waste plan will be released to the public for consultation and review on 17 November 2011. We encourage all to review the plan and put in your submissions supporting the goals of zero waste- asking for:
- Yes to user-pays rubbish collection
- Yes to organic kerbside collection
- NO to inorganic collections in their present form
The plan and the submission forms will be available at: The Auckland Council WMMP webpage.
17 November 2011: The Draft waste plan will be released to the public for consultation and review
31 January 2012: Submissions close 4.00pm
February - March 2012: Council considers the submissions, including hearing oral submissions
May/June 2012: The waste plan is finalised and formally adopted by the Council
2015: Main changes of finalised plan will start to take effect
Please read on for more detail:
Auckland Draft Waste Plan
* The information provided in this article about the Draft Auckland Waste Management and Minimisation Plan is currently being discussed by the council and will be officially released to the public on 17 November 2011 for public consultation and submissions*
In the drafting of this new WMMP, Auckland Council has adopted a strategic direction to implement the ideals of the WMA while streamlining the current amalgam of waste management plans3.
With this direction Auckland Council has taken on the vision,
“to become the most liveable eco city in the world, Auckland will aim for the long term, aspirational goal of Zero Waste by 2040, turning its waste into resources4”
Currently, the Auckland region disposes 1.4 million tonnes of waste in landfills each year amounting to about 0.8 tonnes per person5. Of this total, Auckland Council oversees 17% (kerbside waste collection)6. In order to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, Auckland’s new Waste Management and Minimisation plan focuses on:
1. Working with business and waste industry to enable maximum separation and resource recovery and thus to reduce total volume waste sent to landfills
2. A more aggressive scheme to reduce the volume of waste currently under council influence (Auckland households) by implementing new systems to maximise diversion including organic waste collection
Proposed changes to household waste and recycling services:
Disposer-pays funding for kerbside refuse
Currently 45% of Auckland households pay for refuse through disposer-pays, while 55% pay through rates7. Disposer-pays means that residents are charged for the amount of waste they put out on the kerb instead of through general rates based on the value of their properties. Disposer-pays aligns with the ideals of zero waste, as it provides an economic incentive to reduce waste. Also, it gives residents the choice between paying for the total cost of their refuse or paying less by reducing and recycling. See also comments on refuse wheelie bins below
The new Waste Plan proposes standardising funding methods for domestic waste and recycling services across the region with:
- User-pays funded refuse
- Private good funding of kerbside recycling and organic waste collections
- Rates funded inorganic collection
Private goods refer to services that meet environmental standards and are linked to specific individuals. This is usually funded by general rates or subsidised by other waste services or the government waste levy8.
In making your submission: Zero Waste encourages the adoption of user-pays refuse collection as well as private good kerbside and organic waste funding. Inorganic collections do not align with the ideals of Zero Waste, we therefore encourage the funding that would be used for inorganic collection to be channelled instead into creating infrastructure for Resource Recovery Centres throughout the council.
Wheelie bins for kerbside refuse
Currently, the former Auckland area uses120-litre wheelie bins for kerbside refuse, while residents from the other former councils use mostly 60 litre bags (all collected weekly)9. The new Waste Plan draft proposes to introduce user-pays wheelie bins across the council area with a targeted rate related to the size of the bin chosen by the resident. Residents would be able to choose between 80, 140, or 240 litre bins equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. The RFID records the bin size with household waste account information to charge pre-paid accounts each time the bin is picked up for collection. Rubbish would be collected fortnightly but residents would only be charged for each lift (therefore, you will only be charged by how much you use the service). As the price of each lift would depend on the size of the bin (expected price around $2.50 for an 80 litre bin), it would give incentive to use the smallest bin needed.
In making your submission: Zero Waste has two issues with this method of collection. First, the suggested bin sizes are one and a half to four times bigger than the 40-60 litre bags already used in most former councils10. By giving the option to choose large bins that can fill up four times the amount of refuse of standard 60 litre bags, it’s likely that this new system would allow for an increase in waste instead of a decrease. Also, with the proposed introduction of organic collection, it is estimated that residents would be able to divert an additional 50% of waste from refuse, further emphasising the redundancy of increasing rubbish collection bin sizes. Second, as many residencies in the Auckland region are rented, a prepaid account would most likely be paid by the property owner or rate-payer, thus eliminating any incentive for renters to reduce the amount of waste they put in the bins or how often they put the bins out for collection. Therefore, Zero Waste argues that user-pays bag collection would be most effective in reducing waste sent to landfill. With user-pays bags, residents (renter or owner) would be responsible for paying the cost of disposal by buying pre-paid bags or stickers for rubbish collection. While a household could buy as many bags as they need, the size of the bag and the economic incentive from paying for each bag would encourage people to reduce the waste they send to landfill. Rural properties too would find bags easier to handle. Also, with introduction of inorganic waste, the economic burden of user-pays collection would be lessened and bags could be collected fortnightly in alteration with recycling as the council proposed.
Enhance kerbside recycling
Currently, households across the Council use different systems of recycling collection including wheelie bins, crates, comingled, and separating paper and cardboard from plastic, glass and metal. The Draft Waste plan proposes to introduce a uniformed system consisting of a fully commingled wheelie bin with a wider rage of materials being collected. Also, residents would have a choice of bin capacity ranging from 140-360 litres, collected fortnightly (alternating with refuse collection). This change would not be implemented until current contracts end between 2013 and 2015.
In making your submission: While Zero Waste applauds the idea of enhancing kerbside recycling, it is unadvisable to use a completely comingled system. While the introduction of co-mingled recycling has led to an increase in overall recycling levels, it has also lead to an overall decrease in the quality of recycled materials- especially that of paper and glass11. Although more recyclables are collected, less good glass is recycled because it breaks down into very fine pieces during transport and when dropped off at sorting sites. A 2007 report by Covec and Environmental Resources Management estimated that co-mingled recycling has led 25-30% of recycled glass to break in transit12. This also negatively affects paper-recycling operations, as local recyclers cannot separate the tiny pieces of glass from paper collection, and thus cannot recycle increasing amounts of paper. Furthermore, lower quality recyclable material produced from comingled collection finds more markets offshore where it is cheaper to separate and reprocess materials. This has a negative effect on local reprocessors who require higher quality of recyclable materials from kerbside13.
Therefore, Zero Waste advises a hybrid system, where all materials apart from glass are collected in a comingled system while glass is handled separately. Glass could be collected fortnightly. This would decrease glass breakage and contamination of paper and thus produce higher quality recyclable materials that can be reprocessed on-shore. It would be ideal to streamline the current waste systems with separate rubbish, paper recycling, glass recycling, comingled metal and plastic, and organic collection however this would create resistance from residents.
Kerbside Organic Collection
Organic waste makes up about 50% of domestic kerbside refuse by weight in the Auckland region14. Currently, there are no systems in place to divert kitchen waste from landfills although several private garden waste collection firms exist. Because of the large contribution organic waste collection would make in achieving Council’s goals of zero waste (and because it would help reduce the amount residents pay for disposer pays refuse), the new Waste Plan Draft proposes to introduce a small bin for domestic kerbside organic waste with weekly collection.
In making your submission: Zero Waste encourages and strongly supports the diversion of organic waste from landfills. This can be composted for re-application back to the land, or ideally used in large biogas or anaerobic digestion plants that remove the energy from the organic material using bacteria. This energy can then be used as electricity or scrubbed and compressed and used to power vehicles as CNG. These plants are used widely in Europe and other parts of the world15.
While the once a year inorganic street collection is rare in many parts of the world as well as in the majority of New Zealand, inorganic waste collections are currently provided across the Auckland region. The new Waste Plan Draft proposes to continue to provide an inorganic collection across the region until a better way to receive more recyclable and reusable items can be provided (such and a Resource Recovery Network).
In making your submission:
Zero Waste encourages you to say NO to continuing inorganic waste collection for the following reasons:
- AGAINST ZERO WASTE GOALS:
- *Rates-funded inorganic collection goes against disposer-pays philosophy- providing no incentive for residents to reduce amount of waste they produce
- Inorganic collection does not encourage Product Stewardship schemes while councils fund an easy alternative
- Surveys show that 30% to 50% of inorganic material is reusable or recyclable while a rate of less than 10% is achieved and that is achieved by scavenging
- Commercial scavengers break and damage and take items to remove valuable metals
- The breaking of fridges, air conditioners and dehumidifiers creates environmental hazards by releasing toxic pollutants such as CFCs, HCFC, and HFC into the atmosphere16
- If taken to Resource Recover Centres (which are not yet set up), some items could be resold helping pay for recycling services and provide community with access to low cost goods
- It costs the Auckland region $5.3 million annually for inorganic waste17
- Is it is also 15 times MORE expensive to collect kerbside inorganic wast than it is to pick up kerbside recyclables18
Zero Waste supports reallocating the funds used for inorganic collection to develop infrastructure in the region that supports maximum resource recovery. Savings made by cancelling inorganic collections, waste levy funds, and the sale of recovered materials, could be used to support Resource Recovery Networks across the region where businesses and residents could drop off unwanted materials19.
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The Draft Plan currently being discussed by Council is overall a good draft, and with a few changes, will help Auckland on its way to reach the goal of Zero Waste! Please stay informed and take part in shaping the future of Auckland waste management and minimisation by downloading the Draft Plan from The Auckland Council WMMP webpage on 17 November 2011 and fill out submission forms that encourage Council’s goal of Zero Waste, remembering:
Yes to user-pays rubbish collection
Yes to organic kerbside collection
NO to inorganic collections in their present form
Created November 2011