Kapiti rubbish collection 'anti-competitive'

RANDALL WALKER
Last updated 10:55 22/10/2012

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Kapiti Observer

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A new rubbish collector claims Kapiti's rubbish and kerbside recycling scheme is anti-competitive.

Low Cost Bins says it has been denied access to the partnership operating recycling collection in Kapiti and forced to collect its customers' recycling to operate here.

It claims rubbish collection prices in Kapiti are well above other regions and since joining the market with lower costs other operators have dropped their prices to match them. But Envirowaste, which trades locally as Clean Green, says the company is basing its figures on areas where recycling is paid through council rates, not as part of the rubbish collection charge.

It confirms it will not collect recycling on behalf of the new company, saying it was a business decision, and denies it is being anti-competitive.

The issue came to attention last week when a resident contacted the Kapiti Observer saying his three green recycling crates had been removed by another company, since he joined Low Cost Bins, with no notification.

Envirowaste, which has the contract to collect recycling, confirms it is collecting the bins it provided when the scheme first rolled out, if the customer has changed to the new company.

Kapiti Coast District Council infrastructure services manager Sean Mallon said the bins were distributed free to residents when kerbside recycling began in 2008 and they belong to Envirowaste.

If people had bought additional crates which had been taken away, then Envirowaste had agreed to return them, he said.

Residents who had switched to Low Cost Bins needed to use that company's recycling bins.

"If they put out the green crate, it will not be emptied because Envirowaste no longer has a service contract with those customers."

To operate in Kapiti, Low Cost Bins had to get a licence through the council, part of which required they collect recycling or have someone else collect it for them.

Manager Hugh Wiffen said this was a new situation to their operations in Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua.

He said Envirowaste had prevented them joining the recycling partnership, where Envirowaste collected recycling on behalf of Waste Management, Skip E Bins and the council.

To satisfy the licence conditions, he said this meant they had to provide their own recycling collection. "We've had to go and buy our own infrastructure which is several hundred 80 litre wheelie bins, so the capital outlay's been huge, we've had to buy a $100,000-plus recycle truck.

"And we're also doubling the carbon footprint, by having two trucks run around the area as opposed to being part of the partnership, keeping the costs down and having one truck do the route.

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"Our point is that they are trying to block competition out of the market by not allowing us to be part of the partnership essentially.

"The prices up there are well above the other four territories that we operate in. People up there are paying $400 a year for a wheelie bin service, where the going rate is around $250 to $300 in the other areas that we operate in, for that sort of service, so it's a massive difference.

"Allowing us into the market now, that's created competition, the other companies are matching our prices."

He said the company removing bins had caused confusion and anger for customers, his company fielding numerous calls.

Mr Mallon said Envirowaste collected recycling across the district on behalf of that partnership and it was their call whether they wanted to collect recycling from other operators.

Council and the other companies paid Envirowaste, with council paying 50 per cent of the cost.

Envirowaste regional manager Wiremu Greening confirmed they had declined to collect recycling on behalf of Low Cost.

"We're not blocking competition, it's up to the individual waste company to provide kerbside recycling, who we choose to provide that service to is our prerogative."

He would not comment on why Envirowaste would collect on behalf of the other companies and not Low Cost, saying the decision not to provide them kerbside recycling was a business decision. He confirmed they had matched Low Cost's prices to avoid losing customers.

"I think the reality is that if they can do it for that money, including recycling, good luck to them."

He said the rates Low Cost was charging were relative to the rates in areas where kerbside recycling was paid through council rates.

He said the company owned the green crates. "The reason they have been removed is that we provide the kerbside recycling to our customers and if they are no longer a customer of ours then we don't supply it."

He said if customers had notified them they would be changing to Low Cost, they would have been informed their crates would be removed.

He said there was already four companies driving the route picking up rubbish and another truck picking up recycling was insignificant.

- Kapiti Observer

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