Lazy penny-pinchers create an eyesore

22:29, Nov 01 2012

What kind of person dumps their household rubbish on the side of a road, or worse, in a stream?

It turns out there are plenty who will, judging by the amount of fly-tipping that goes on around Palmerston North and the rest of Manawatu.

There are several factors at play here, and it's not as simple as people being lazy and dumping stuff, although that is a large part of it.

Decades ago little thought was put into what went into landfills or, as they were more accurately called then, dumps.

Household and business rubbish was dropped off by the car and trailer load. Rats and seagulls would scurry around, while a bulldozer flattened the trash and squashed it down.

When you look back at that system now, it's almost unbelievable. Things came to a head as people created more and more rubbish, largely on the back of cheap items that had short shelf lives and too much packaging.


That, coupled with more of a focus on the environment, changed the landscape dramatically.

When kerbside recycling came in, that changed everything again.

To make people recycle more paper, metal and glass, councils like Palmerston North used the disincentive of charging for rubbish bags.

It seems now, though, that a tipping point has been reached.

In Palmerston North, you get a couple of bucks change from $30 for a 10-pack of green rubbish bags. No wonder the supermarkets hid them under the counter like some illicit item.

The natural option for people who balk at the price is to dump at least some of their household rubbish. Have you ever seen a rubbish bin in town overflowing with someone's garbage? It's disgusting.

But it is a byproduct of the system we've created. And rather than it being something temporary while people get used to the habit of recycling and thinking more about what they throw away, we're likely to see more and more of it.

Education and behaviour change will only get you so far. There will always be people who flout the rules to save themselves a bit of time and money, all the while making our towns and cities their own personal rubbish tip.

The recent security breach of the Social Development Ministry's computer systems has proven something of a wake-up call for other Government-funded organisations. And rightly so. MidCentral Health is one group that is reviewing the security of its IT setup, a commonsense approach given what's at stake. It may come with a price tag, but it's better to ensure people's personal information is kept private.

Manawatu Standard