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Christchurch City Council Media Release 17 July 2002


People will have chances to debate a change in rubbish bag system

Full public consultation will occur before any final decisions are made about changing the way Christchurch’s rubbish collection is paid for, says City Council solid waste manager Simon Collin.

On Tuesday the Christchurch City Council set its budget for 2002/03. In its indicative forward budgets, the Council decided to investigate changing to a “waster pays” system for kerbside rubbish and earmarked some money for an education and publicity campaign on the issue.

Mr Collin says adopting a system where people can directly see how much it costs to deal with rubbish would tie in with Council and Government policies which aim to cut down the amount of waste generated and to encourage greater recycling.

At present in Christchurch the cost of collecting and disposing of rubbish is charged as part of the general rates bill. Taking that cost out, by charging for rubbish bags, has been shown to encourage people to think more about what they throw away and to separate out material that can be recycled or reused.

Christchurch people will have plenty of opportunities to learn about any changes and to let the City Council know what they think of this proposal,” he says. “Money’s been earmarked for the year from July 2003 which would be used on an extensive information and education campaign if the Council does finally decide to proceed with this proposal,” Mr Collin says. If the scheme goes ahead the last issue of “free” bags would be May 2003, so most people would have to start buying bags from May 2004.

In a recent city residents survey, two thirds of those questioned either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I am willing to pay for the waste I produce as long as the kerbside recycling service is ‘free’."

However, just over three quarters thought having to pay for rubbish bags would lead to more illegal dumping.

The scheme to be considered by Council will include using some of the money from bag sales to watch and counter this, Mr Collin says. However, the clear evidence from other cities that have gone to "waster pays" is that it does not significantly increase illegal dumping.

Waitakere, for example, has had "waster pays" for about three years, including enforcement and recycling promotion schemes. There, the rate of illegal dumping has fallen and the amount of domestic waste has shrunk by almost 30 per cent.

Northshore, Wellington, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, and Waimakariri, have also moved to separately funded waste systems, and Dunedin has committed to move that way from 1st July 2003.

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