Worthless rubbish has high cost

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 01/02/2013
Opinion poll

What should be done about the amount of illegal dumping in Palmerston North?

Harsher penalties, naming and shaming

An inorganic rubbish day would work

It's an unsolvable problem

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Cleaning up illegal dumping in urban streets cost Palmerston North ratepayers nearly $80,000 last year, leaving the city council disappointed and searching for answers.

The council budgets $60,000 a year to cover the costs of illegal dumping of large goods such as mattresses and televisions.

But figures released to the Manawatu Standard show the full cost of the cleanup ballooned to $79,021 in 2012 off the back of an increased amount of fly-tipping in the last half of the year.

The council dealt with about 67 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish in the first half of the year.

This increased to 106 tonnes in the second half of the year, and council programmes team leader Rob Campbell said the amount had gone through another spike early in 2013.

Fly-tipping at the Albert St and Terrace End toilet block clothing bins, as well as claims by council staff that they are being abused as they clean it up, has put illegal dumping back in the spotlight recently.

"The amount of illegal dumping is unusually high at the moment," Mr Campbell said.

"It has become a hot topic and we are conscious of that.

"Funnily enough, it's increased even more since it's been publicised, so maybe that's part of it, I dunno."

It was a cyclical problem every council in the country had to deal with and there were no obvious solutions, he said.

"We are not happy with the amount we are spending, because obviously it is ratepayer money. That amount is significant and we are conscious of that.

"The thing is, if we could catch everybody and bill everybody, we would break even on that cost, but we just can't do that without the additional costs of surveillance and cameras."

The people in the council who dealt with illegal dumping would be meeting in the next week to discuss what to do about it, Mr Campbell said.

"We've been putting the information together to get the full picture and the next step is to meet and talk about it.

"We'll be tossing ideas into the air and hopefully some stick but this is not going to be a five-minute process."

Just 37 people were issued an infringement notice last year, with seven of those waived, and Mr Campbell urged Palmerston North residents to dob in to the council or police those they saw dumping.

Lyal Brenton, of Methodist Social Services, said the amount the council spent on illegal dumping was "surprisingly large".

He had noticed a real problem with illegal dumping, particularly televisions, around many of his organisation's clothing bins.

It was because it cost $25 to dump a television at the transfer station, and unless something was done it would become an even bigger issue when New Zealand went through the digital switch-over, Mr Brenton said.

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An idea that needed to be discussed was the introduction of a biannual inorganic rubbish collection day.

- Manawatu Standard

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Have you had a garage sale lately?

Yes, it's too much effort to put all that junk online.

No, I sell everything on Trademe.

I just give things I don't want to charity.

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Related story: Garage sale turf under threat

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