The move is expected to increase the amount our city recycles by 40 percent, from 12,300 tonnes a year to 18,000 tonnes, as well as reducing the amount of litter and broken glass on the streets.
A trial of the wheelie bins will begin in some areas of the city in August before being rolled out across the city in October. Glass will still be collected using the existing 45-litre green bins on alternate weeks to the wheelie bins.
We estimate that 12,000 of the city's 57,000 households won't be able to use the wheelie bins because of steep or difficult access, so they'll be given a see-through recyclable bag for their plastics, paper and metals.
The Council's CitiOperations Manager, Mike Mendonca, says the change has been driven by health and safety concerns and the aim to recycle more and to encourage New Zealand recycling businesses.
"We've reviewed the health and safety record of the present collection system and found it poses injury risks to workers," he says. "A recent study for Waste Management Institute New Zealand shows manual methods of collecting recycling are more likely to cause injury than automated bin collections.
"We expect about a 40 percent increase in recycling because of the bigger bin, and less material being blown away because the wheelie bins have lids."
Another benefit of the new system is that almost all the city's recyclables will be processed in New Zealand. Very little of our recycling is currently processed here because local machines can't handle glass contamination, which is the result of glass being mixed in with other recycling. Separating glass under the new system means it can be processed in New Zealand.
Under the new system, manual handling of bins will drop by 50 percent, and new low-access glass collection vehicles will mean the glass recycling bins won't need to be lifted above waist height. Vehicles will be left-hand drive so drivers don't have to step out into traffic.
The new system is expected to cost just over $3 million a year, and will be funded from rubbish bag sales, landfill fees and the waste levy.
Auckland, Manukau, Christchurch, Timaru and North Shore already use wheelie bins for recycling, as do many other countries, including most of Australia. A recent survey of North Shore residents found that 87 percent of them are happy with the wheelie bin system.
A survey of Wellington city residents from the Council's Long-Term Council Community Plan found that 85 percent were happy with the Council's recycling system but said bigger bins were needed to combat problems with the wind.
More information will be provided as part of the wheelie bin roll-out, including information about exactly what can be recycled.