Upper Hutt residents have experienced their first proper week of the city's controversial user-pays recycling scheme.
The new regime, introduced to save $200,000 for Upper Hutt City Council, will cost residents $69 a year.
Crates for glass and wheelie bins for cardboard and plastic replaced the plastic shopping bags used to collect recyclable items.
Opponents claim recycling is a core council function and should be free.
Silverstream resident Tracey Ultra said the community had asked for bins to replace bags, but the user-pays aspect was foisted on it.
"The numbers they're quoting - that rates would have to go up 7 per cent - it's not based on the best collection deal.
"A lot of people saying they're not going to bother - people are just going to start dumping it."
She said other councils funded a free recycling scheme, so she wondered why Upper Hutt City Council could not do the same.
Mayor Wayne Guppy said the public outcry was probably because of the perception that the previous service was free. However, it was funded through rates, so residents still paid for it.
"It started out from people saying we want an improved service. We weren't going to compulsorily put it on everyone's rates."
Though there could initially be a fall in the number of people recycling, the new scheme could eventually boost recycling levels, he said.
"We did a pilot scheme and the amount of recycling increased from 160 kilograms a year up to over 400kg per house, because it's a much easier, cleaner system."
The new system began on February 4, though a grace period was offered last week.
Transpacific Waste Management collected items in the old plastic shopping bags, but issued notices saying that, from this week, items would no longer be picked up, council operations director Lachlan Wallach said.
The council publicly consulted on the proposal in April last year, as part of its long-term plan.
Meanwhile, Kapiti Coast District Council is considering dumping its trash collection service.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Would you support your local council paying the 'living wage'?Related story: Council's living wage blowout