Dumping rubbish bags on council’s agenda

The future appears dark for Dunedin’s black rubbish bags.

The Dunedin City Council will, on Tuesday, consider replacing the city’s black pre-paid rubbish bags with wheelie bins for rubbish, food scraps and green waste to complement the city’s recycling services.

The council staff’s preferred option would require a $20.6million loan to implement, but would also allay health and safety concerns for garbage collectors and reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags going to landfill, and appears to be overwhelmingly supported in a preliminary consultation earlier this year.

A report to Tuesday’s full council meeting noted the black rubbish bags had fallen from favour in Dunedin.

Their use was in steady decline, only 25% of people now using them.

The decrease was due to both a shift towards private rubbish collection and a preference for wheelie bins over bags for rubbish, the report said.

Through March and April, Dunedin residents were asked what their preference would be for two replacement systems, it said.

They could support either an 80L or 140L red-lidded rubbish bin to be collected weekly, or a system with an 80L, 140L or 240L green-lidded bin for food and garden waste, collected weekly, and an 80L or 140L red rubbish bin.

The option that allowed for a green bin pick-up was overwhelmingly favoured.

Of the 10,158 responses received by the council, 80% were in favour of the second idea, the report said.

At present, council staff’s refinement of the preferred option was to separate food scraps from other green waste so a 23L bin for food waste only, collected weekly, would be available, and households could choose to have an additional 240L garden waste collection bin, at an additional cost of $140 to $180 a year to be collected fortnightly.

Even the least dramatic change to rubbish collection on offer — a three-bin ‘‘enhanced status quo’’ option for a weekly red bin collection and a fortnightly yellow bin and blue crate collection — would cost nearly $10million to set up.

All three options would cost between $10.6million and $11.9million a year to operate.

The council’s kerbside collection contracts would expire in June 2022, and any changes to levels of service were best implemented at the start of new contracts, the report said.

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