'Free' recycling coming at a cost

Three days a week: The Upper Hutt free recycling drop-off station in orderly action.
PETER McDONALD

Three days a week: The Upper Hutt free recycling drop-off station in orderly action.

The future of Upper Hutt's ratepayer-funded recycling service in Upper Hutt is under scrutiny.

Setup and operational costs have been higher than expected while tonnage figures for the city overall indicate the number of people recycling has not increased, a city council report says.

"The benefit to the city by providing a rate-funded recycling station as a whole needs to be considered," city operations director Lachlan Wallach said.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy at the opening of the city's new recycling drop-off station in January.
COLIN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy at the opening of the city's new recycling drop-off station in January.

"If the recycling station is not considered viable, the option of only providing cardboard cages could be looked at." 

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The three-days-a-week drop off station at Park St, north of the CBD, began a 12-month trial in late January.

Recycling them young. Evadine Smith gets into the swing of things at the Upper Hutt drop-off station.
PETER McDONALD

Recycling them young. Evadine Smith gets into the swing of things at the Upper Hutt drop-off station.

This came more than three years after the council abandoned its long established kerbside collection, a decision forcing residents wanting to recycle to take up contracts with private companies or travel down the valley to 24-hour bins provided by Hutt City.

The amount of council staff time ended monitoring the station, its operational cost and the fact the tonnage collected "closely reflects" a drop in kerbside recycling were all factors to consider, Wallach said in a first report on the service.

The setup cost, to April, was $41,000, twice an originally budgeted $20,000 while the the full year's operation is expected to cost another $67,000.

Residents have called the service to operate daily and while discussions on this have been held with the contractors, Waste Management, the near $170,000 a year price was prohibitive.

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"It is hard to understand why those people who choose to use a rates-funded system cannot organise themselves to use the facility when it is open all day, three days a week," Wallach said.

Use of the council service had correlated with a reduction in private collection contracts. For Waste Management alone, these dropped by almost 300, a 12 per cent reduction.

"The tonnage collected at the station closely reflects the decrease in kerbside recycling, which indicates that the number of people recycling has not increased."

The first usage figures indicate the station will have 50,440 dropoffs in the trial year, equivalent to $1.34 a visit or when excluding non-resident users, $81.36 a year.

"A 140-litre recycle bin for kerbside collection can be obtained from Waste Management cost for $72.60 per year," Wallach said.

 - Stuff

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