Palmerston North rejects food waste collection

Palmerston North has put the lid on a conversation about a kerbside food waste collection.

Palmerston North has put the lid on a conversation about a kerbside food waste collection.

People should compost their food scraps or feed them to chickens or worm farms.

Palmerston North city councillor Rachel Bowen made the assertion as councillors closed down a proposal to investigate setting up a kerbside food waste collection service in the city.

The council's finance and performance committee on Monday put a halt to staff carrying out any further study about such a service.

The study would have given councillors and residents an opportunity to talk about the idea during next year's review of the Long-Term Plan.

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The food scraps collection and the setting up of another green waste and recycling drop-off centre in the northern part of the city were crossed off the list of topics councillors were interested in talking to the public about.

Early estimates were that the food waste service would have cost $1.5 million to set up – providing householders with indoor caddies and 40-litre outdoor bins for food scraps – and $1m a year to run, at a cost of $60 to every ratepayer.

Bowen said she was philosophically opposed to the idea of encouraging people to create food waste and throw it away.

"It would be effectively penalising people who have invested in insinkerators, and who have invested in composting and the worm farmers, including kindergartens, and our urban chook keepers."

Bowen said the emphasis should be on not wasting food in the first place.

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Cr Duncan McCann said he was not sure about the fairness of making all ratepayers pay for a universal food waste collection when those who already did their own home composting would likely opt out.

Rubbish and recycling engineer Natasha Hickmott said a waste survey about to get under way was expected to show food waste made up the most significant part of what people put in their rubbish bags and that could potentially be diverted from going to the landfill.

She said it would be wise to trial a collection before going ahead and there would be opportunities to learn from other centres.

Auckland had decided to introduce a food waste collection and other cities were considering it.

She did not recommend following the example of Christchurch, which collected kerbside bins of mixed green waste and food scraps.

Hickmott said food scraps created odour problems in a simple green waste composting scheme and were better dealt with separately.

Cr Lorna Johnson said she would rather see a green waste collection service than a food collection.

She said many people had told her transporting their garden waste to a drop-off point was a problem.

"Not many people have raised the food waste issue with me."

The committee has recommended further investigations should be carried out on several other staff proposals.

They included enhanced commercial and multi-unit residential recycling services, mattress recycling, resources to follow up and prosecute people for illegal dumping and subsidising e-waste recycling.

Councillors added another project to reduce the use and waste of soft plastics, including single-use shopping bags.

They also endorsed a plan to introduce a smaller, cheaper official collection bag as an option for households that generated less rubbish.

The committee turned down a suggestion of subsidising the cost of rubbish bag collection through increasing rates.

 - Stuff


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