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Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says it is "not acceptable'' that a review of the Otago Regional Council's regional waste plan is more than a decade overdue.
Mr Cull was commenting as city councillors discussed the Dunedin City Council's own waste minimisation plans at yesterday's infrastructure services and networks committee meeting.
Councillors were considering a draft waste minimisation and management plan, which sought to update the DCC's earlier plan, adopted in 2013, and encourage a more environmentally-friendly approach across the city.
But, at present, just 19% of the city's waste stream was under the direct control of the council and able to be influenced, councillors heard.
That included residential rubbish bags collected by the council's official kerbside collection service, but not, for example, rubbish collected in private rubbish wheelie bin services.
DCC solid waste manager Catherine Irvine said the ORC's own regional plan for waste - which outlined the regulatory environment - was also 12 years overdue for a review.
That meant Otago now had the most "permissive'' approach to waste management in the country, she said.
It also created a financial incentive for more waste to find its way to "farm fills'' in rural gullies and other locations, to avoid the council's more expensive service, DCC waste and environmental solutions group manager Chris Henderson said.
Farm fills were permitted activities under the existing ORC plan, and were "all around Otago'', although their locations were not mapped, he said.
"It [the ORC plan] definitely needs a review. That does make it challenging,'' Ms Irvine said.
Crs Jim O'Malley and Damian Newell both hoped to see the DCC and ORC working together on the issue, but Mr Cull said it was "a little more serious and a little more urgent than that''.
The primary focus of the regional council was the environment, and the delay updating its own waste plan was "not acceptable'', he said.
"We need to be requiring some co-operation from the regional council on this.
"Their inaction makes it possible we just won't be able to succeed. We need to be conversing urgently,'' he said.
Cr Newell said the DCC's lack of control over the city's waste stream was "a huge issue'', and the two councils needed to work together to regain control.
"Pushing it into a gully goes to a stream. Unfortunately I think it's going to be a huge ticking timebomb, knowing what's gone into those gullies over the last 50, 60, 70 years.''
An ORC spokeswoman said staff were not able to respond to the criticism yesterday.
The DCC's draft plan, together with a new waste assessment and reports on the city's waste futures project, are all expected to be presented to councillors in December and then released for public consultation in early 2019.