There's not much that stirs ratepayers' emotions more than the topic of rubbish! In the Waitaki District, the council decided that there were already enough private operators offering rubbish and recycling pick-up services, so it didn't need to. It overturned the previous decision to bring in a 3-bin system to deal with rubbish, recycling and green waste. The council continued to help fund the processing of recycling and of course it operates the landfills in Oamaru and Palmerston, as well as having the cost of monitoring and maintaining numerous landfills around the district. So it is still in the business, just not in the kerbside pick-up part of it.
I believe the council was right in theory with letting the private companies carry on with kerbside pick-ups, but it hasn't worked out so well in practice. There has not been a large take-up with the services, other than the wheelie bin service for rubbish and it's past time we did something about it. We are a bit of a joke when people come to the district from elsewhere and find that we don't have a modern system readily available.
There are a number of solutions available, ranging from just publicising and promoting the services that are available through to taking the service completely back under their control. I think the answer is somewhere in between. The problem with taking the service back completely is that there are many people who will pay more. Often, they will be the ones who are already doing the right thing, as opposed to those who are chucking everything away who will probably pay less than they are at the moment. Having a system where a 3-bin type system is available and even possibly charged through rates may be the option which maximises flexibility for everyone but brings the efficiencies of scale required to keep the cost down.
I would like to see an option where everyone is encouraged to recycle and rubbish is still not too expensive to dispose of responsibly. This could be best done in partnership with the various companies involved in the industry and with the Waitaki Resource Recovery Trust. There are also other groups around the district who I'm sure, would like to be involved. For the customer, the goal will be to have an easy, efficient and relatively low-cost solution to their solid waste. As always, I'm keen to hear your perspectives on this, perhaps including what you are already doing and how much you are paying for it.