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The Invercargill City Council and Southland Disability Enterprises (SDE) are having conversations to extend the city’s recycling contract, which could leave controversy about it in the past.
Last year, the council reached an agreement with the company, which employs people with disabilities, and signed a new contract for 18 months.
That agreement was set to end on December 31.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Otago Daily Times that a debate about the matter was held last month during a public-excluded session of the council’s infrastructural services committee meeting.
Sources said councillors voted in support for a three-year extension of the current contract — with a potential renewal of two more years.
Invercargill City Council infrastructure group manager Erin Moogan did not reply to questions about the contract or that meeting.
However, in a statement, she confirmed discussions had started with the existing contractor regarding extending its contract.
"This is to allow time for central government to complete a number of key initiatives expected to impact on future waste and recycling services to ensure council is investing in the right waste minimisation outcomes as part of tendering any new contracts," she said.
Key central government initiatives included the development of a national waste strategy to set the waste direction and guide investment over the coming decades, and updating of legislation and policy guidance aimed at accelerating New Zealand’s transition towards a circular economy, she said.
SDE general manager Hamish McMurdo confirmed the conversations were ongoing, but declined to comment any further due to commercial sensitivity.
A decision would probably need to be made by December 1, Mr McMurdo said.
"Earlier is always better for us," he said.
In the past, the city’s recycling contract has prompted debate and controversy in the Southland community.
The tender process for the region’s recycling contract ended in 2019 after the Southland and Gore district councils voted Smart Environmental as the preferred tenderer, but the Invercargill City Council did not support the recommendation.
It decided to extend the contract with SDE and a further renewal for 18 months was signed last year.
In the meantime, SDE was working to invest $1.5million in a new plant with the aim to sort the region’s problem with bale wrap while generating potentially 20 new jobs.