Tauranga City Council – Why are ‘we’ lagging behind other NZ cities


I spoke with the folk at the Environment Centre about the dismal state or non-state of recycling in Tauranga. Glen explained Tauranga doesn’t, and is the only ‘City’ Council not to, take responsibility for rubbish and recycling – instead it is left to the ‘free’ market. What that means is Tauranga only recycles plastics type 1 and 2 versus other centres that recycle 1-6 (and sometimes 7). Hamilton is about to join the main centres (along with Palmerston North and Taupo) to recycle at least 1-6. Types 4 & 5 plastic seem important, as plastic bags are usually type 4 and many containers are type 5, whereas type 6 (polystyrene) is not good, so should be avoided anyway. But it’s not only plastic that’s a recycling issue in Tauranga, glass is an issue too – much of it doesn’t get recycled back into bottles and is instead getting dumped or turned into roading aggregate. This recycling debarcle is all about profits as companies on-sell NZ recycled plastic (which is made into chips) to Asia and there is greater demand (or perhaps price), for reasons that aren’t clear to me (yet), for 1 & 2.

As an aside, I heard a rumour within a Scandanavian country (Sweden perhaps?) their supermarkets take responsibility for recycling, so one can take one’s recycling back to the ‘source’ – the supermarket. Does anyone know further hard facts on this?

Glen steered me towards this blog written by Whakamarama resident, Jodie. She encourages Bay citizens to lobby Tauranga City Council by April 2012. That date has been and gone, but I say better late than never. A small side note. Write in / Facebook / Share Tauranga’s pitiful recycling status with your friends and whanau. Jodie’s story continues:

So Tauranga residents can save on $ and recycle all our plastics like the 6/8 largest NZ cities?

I am a ratepayer living around Tauranga & frankly, I am sick of my kids coming home and talking about recycling 3-7 plastics when Tauranga doesn’t actually do this.

And I really hate the legacy of landfill we are leaving for our future. So I conducted an investigation.  And the shame.  Oh the shame of my findings.:

The Tauranga City Council Ten Year Plan is up for review. (Please note submissions are due by 20th April.) Central to all decisions is the ‘Decision Making Framework’. Two of the top eight points central to ‘what we want our city to be like?’ Are (1) Clean, Green valued environment; and (2) Living Well, wasting less.

Out of the top eight cities in New Zealand, Auckland, Wellington, Hastings-Napier, Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston-North all recycle plastics no.’s 3-7.
ONLY Tauranga City Council (TCC) and Hamilton City Council do not.

Yet even Hamilton CC are considering the option, and it will be easier for them to implement because they already charge rubbish and recycle collection onto rates.

The big problem for us, is that TCC clearly state ‘No rates-funded inorganic waste collections to be undertaken’. (Section 9.2 TCC & WBOPDC Waste Minimisation and Management Plan).

What Council is failing to do is to communicate to local cash-strapped rate-payers that it will be cheaper to consolidate rubbish collection under one contractor, recycle ALL plastics 1-7, and, if council separates glass from plastics (ie. allows fortnightly collection so glass one week paper/plastics the other), the TCC will actually make money. Ie. it is in their best interest… just speak to little old

For example: My mechanic in Tauranga, rubbish and recycle collection, currently pays $6.75 a week = $351 annually. He thinks he has a good deal.
Dunedin: $68 for recycle collection (taking the bulky 3-7 numbers reduces actual rubbish). If you then included 1 $2.10 rubbish bags a week = $177.20
Hastings $145.20 and the cheapest is Palmerston North Annual total collection fee at $144.

No recycling? = 3 rubbish bags a week at $2.70 a pop costs you $421.20. Even 2 bags cost you $280.80 over a year.
And if, like most families, you end up with a big recycle bin and 1 rubbish bag a week it will cost you $208.40 over the year.

Tauranga residents are being ripped off – economically and environmentally. Our environmental management is NOT best practice in NZ.

All these city councils clearly state the charge in their rates, so it is not some sneaky rate increase. It is saving Tauranga residents money.

And with change you, the resident that stamps your foot up and down and can’t bear the thought of one more cent on your rates bill,  can look your kids in the eye and say you actually do care.

Just because the Tauranga Council have increased rates shockingly, it doesn’t mean we  should stick our heads in the ground.  Not at all.

For one annual lump sum of $68 (using Dunedin’s price) we can turn recycling around in Tauranga. (And I don’t see why thoughtful landlords couldn’t transparently include it in rent over the year ($1.30pw) – so that tenants don’t get a big nasty lump sum).

Tauranga’s Draft Ten Year Plan 2012-2022 is open for review, and in the full draft, Part A, pages 174-180 is the solid waste component. Their commitment to ‘progressive reduction of waste’ is a tiny 20kg (or roughly 3%) a year (but this isn’t on the plan it is on page 14 of the WBOPDC & TCC Waste Management and Minimisation plan (do Google) which is one and the same). At the moment our waste is growing at 15-17kg a year anyway. And most of the strategies are kind of, well, hopeful.

(When Taupo swapped to user pays rate funded recycling in 2002, it increased from 35% of households to 95% of households recycling, and they then are estimating by collecting no.3-7 plastics around 3 million containers additionally will be kept out of landfill! Note: Taupo has 100,000 less residents than Tauranga).

If you want to help change, make a submission. The more submissions they hear, the braver they will be at dealing with the barriers to achieving this (a) including recycling in the rates bill (b) consolidating collection under one contractor.

Here is the online submission form for you.

Whatever you say will help.

Best of luck helping our kids have a beautiful world to grow up into.


One comment

  1. I respect and admire your activism and well researched presentation. Carl in Miami, Florida USA. My main worry is that they will start putting oil rig platforms off the coast here and when one breaks it will be the end of the world for us. They have the audacity to contend the platforms are strong enough to weather the hurricanes. They are liars.

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