Council sticks to existing waste system

Marlborough may move to wheelie bins for its rubbish collection in the future, but not for some years yet, despite some concern about plastic bags not being biodegradable.

No rubbish collection service was perfect, but the council's current system was as clean as possible, Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil said.

McNeil said there had been some debate about biodegradable rubbish bags.

The council's 800,000 rubbish bags were not biodegradable, but they didn't need to be because of the way they were used.

"For stuff to biodegrade, there needs to be the right conditions, with moisture and sunlight.

"In the landfill, you're burying the material. As the loads get tipped out, we run them over and squash them and the waste is buried.

"Having a biodegradable bag doesn't give an advantage unless they're near to the surface."

The alternative of using wheelie bins would be looked at in the next two to four years.

Until then, the combination of black plastic bags for household rubbish and recycling crates for plastics, paper, and glass would continue.

McNeil said the crates had only been in use for two to three years, and the council liked to see an asset used for seven years before looking to replace it.

Wheelie bins were more expensive, costing between $25-$50, so supplying one or more to 13,000 households was a "considerable expenditure", he said.

"We would like a good return from the current system before we look at a new one.

"Never say never, it's just a matter of timing."

The council would investigate options and consult the public before making any changes, McNeil said. That investigation would include looking at other councils' experiences.

Some councils had a three wheelie bin system: one for rubbish; one for green waste; and one for mixed recycling. Others had bags for rubbish, crates for glass, and other recycling in a wheelie bin.

Broken glass was expensive to deal with in rubbish sorting, McNeil said, and required "expensive kit".

With a wheelie bin, collectors couldn't see the contents. Expensive equipment was needed to sort it, or the whole lot could be contaminated and the contractor could lose the lot.

Rubbish contractors sort and on-sell materials such as glass and some plastics to be re-used, but those materials need to be clean to be saleable.

The Marlborough Express