QLDC approves new kerbside recycling plan

The Queenstown Lakes district is on track to receive a new kerbside green waste service, after the initiative was given the green light by councillors.

The proposed service would involve the introduction of a combined food organic and garden organic (FOGO) 80-litre bin across the district, collected weekly and transferred to a yet-to-be built facility managed by the Central Otago District Council (CODC).

A report prepared for Queenstown Lakes councillors to consider last week stated that "54% of material in kerbside refuse bins was found to be organic", 33.9% of the total made up of food scraps and a further 18.2% compostable green waste.

The aim of the new service would be to avoid sending that material to landfill and to reduce associated biogenic methane emissions, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) senior waste minimisation planner Sophie Mander said.

Implementation of the service would also ensure the council got ahead of proposed government legislation while also meeting recycling commitments QLDC had made in 2018.

The changes would mean moving the refuse bin collection schedule from weekly to fortnightly.

Before a unanimous vote in favour of the proposal, several councillors questioned how committed they were to utilising the CODC’s facility, which is not expected to be operational until 2026 at the earliest.

QLDC chief executive Mike Theelan said while the CODC was "the preferred solution, they’re not necessarily the only solution" and that alternative providers could be considered.

In response to a question from Cr Quentin Smith, Ms Mander said the savings on reducing refuse bin collections were "not as huge as we would hope" as most of the money was tied up in maintaining infrastructure.

Cr Esther Whitehead asked whether staff had considered the environmental impact of trucks hauling waste to Central Otago over a more local solution.

Ms Mander said any emissions saved from reducing travel time would be "small comparative to the overall emissions savings" gained from introducing the green waste service.

Cr Gavin Bartlett said the addition of a fourth kerbside bin for households would inevitably create congestion issues on footpaths, and stressed proposed bylaws around bin placement hours would need to be in place before the service was rolled out.

The public will have the opportunity to offer feedback on the proposal when the draft 2024-34 long-term plan is released for public consultation later this year.