Efficient Waste Services

6 March 2012

Wellington's new recycling system is working well - tonnages are up, it's making money - and we've almost ended injuries to our recycling workers.

Collecting Wellington's recycling

Collecting Wellington's recycling

And as the system beds in, the Council is now starting to take a new look at more efficient ways of dealing with waste - including recycling, rubbish, landfills and sewage - and one proposal is that we work more closely with Porirua City.

The Council's Three Waters and Waste Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ngaire Best, says the recycling service is encouraging Wellingtonians to recycle more than ever before - with each household recycling up to 15% more than last year.

And the Council's CitiOperations Manager, Mike Mendonca, says while the transition last year from 'green crates' to wheelie-bins and bags was a challenge, he's very pleased with how things are going.

"Our domestic kerbside recycling collection service has now settled into a rhythm and there are now almost 65,000 households participating in the system."

Mr Mendonca is particularly pleased with the almost zero injury rate for collectors.

"Under the previous system, glass was dumped into the truck with other recycling and was then sorted by hand at a processing centre. On average every worker was injured at least once a year. Now the collector is the only person who physically handles the glass in the whole process, this has significantly reduced injuries."

The new way of collecting and recycling glass means we now make money from it.

"We used to have to pay a contractor to accept our recycling - now we're forecasting revenue of $1 million a year, which will fund about a quarter of the collection costs."

Cr Best says discussions are under way with Porirua City Council over whether to work even more closely. "It's probably not widely known that the two councils jointly own the Spicer Landfill at Porirua and the Titahi Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

"This joint ownership recognises that the councils share geographic and operational similarities. Close to half of the rubbish that enters the Spicer Landfill comes from Wellington and just under half of the sewage treated at Titahi Bay flows from Wellington too. 

The councils are exploring opportunities, possibly through the establishment of a council-controlled trading organisation (CCTO), to manage the Spicer and the Southern Landfill in Owhiro Bay, our rubbish and recycling collections and other waste-related services. 

Such an approach is expected to streamline operations, with the potential for greater financial benefits in future years without having to burden ratepayers. 

The proposed CCTO would have a board of directors appointed and monitored by the elected councils.

Wellington and Porirua councils are about to seek public feedback on the partnership proposal.

Wellington's Mayor and Councillors will discuss it this week as part of the 2012/22 Long Term Plan process - and formal public feedback will be sought next month. We'll have more details closer to the time.