[maia_hart] Local Democracy Reporter
Marlborough’s council may be looking to roll out wheelie bins – but a solution for ditching green waste at the kerb instead of carting it to the dump still needs to be found.
It means the council “won’t move” on a solution for household organics or green waste until they know what solution there is, if any, for commercial organic waste, Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil said.
McNeil said this was because commercial waste was a “much bigger tonnage” than what the community would ever produce. Commercial organics included things such as grape marc and aquaculture waste, he said.
The council had long struggled to find a solution for household green waste, due to the amount of herbicides in the product.
“It’s not necessarily the green waste, it is the grass,” McNeil said.
“If you mix the grass with the green waste, which will be another issue if you had a wheelie bin, then the danger is if you’ve been using the sprays on the grass, then that is very persistent.
“If that then got mixed into let’s say a future compost … and you then spread that compost on a flower bed or a vegetable garden, then there’s a risk that residual herbicide or pesticide or weed killer would still be there.”
McNeil said there was no way to test this unless you sent it to a lab.
“So whilst many people might say ‘well I don’t spray my grass’, we don’t know that, so we can’t run the risk,” he said.
Asked how other councils got around the issue of green waste, McNeil said it depended on their end use.
“If you look at the likes of Christchurch, they’ve got a tunnel system which basically puts the material through a process and then eventually most of their output goes to land spread in the farming sector.
“If you are spreading it on land where you are growing grass it’s not actually an issue.
“Other people, the main guys who produce the compost … they tend to keep the grass separate, or they try and identify who is the potential culprit within their area.”
The council had plans, currently under consultation, to roll wheelie bins out across the district.
The proposal would see Marlborough households get two 140-litre bins – one for rubbish, one for recycling – collected on alternate weeks. Households would also get a separate 55-litre crate for glass.
The proposal would roll out kerbside waste collection to the likes of Grovetown, Havelock, Rarangi, Rai Valley, Seddon, Spring Creek, Tuamarina, Wairau Valley and Ward, for the first time.
It was expected to cost households an extra $27 a year, for Blenheim and Picton who already had kerbside collection. The service would cost $160 a year for residents getting kerbside collection for the first time. This figure could still change.
McNeil said there was not a way around the green waste issue without a “high-tech processing facility”.
“I know the public are keen on a [wheelie] bin potentially for green waste,” he said.
“But at the moment, it would literally just go to landfill, it wouldn’t go anywhere else, because there is nowhere for it.”
The council’s statement of proposal for the wheelie bins consultation said a number of private companies were “investigating” the feasibility of establishing an organics processing solution for the region.
“The majority of organic inputs to landfill are from commercial and industrial sources. Council will continue to work with these interested parties,” the statement said.
“If a suitable organic processing facility can be established by the private sector, then council could then consider options for domestic organic materials such as garden and food waste.”
McNeil said they would do this by shoulder tapping the private company to see if they would consider taking household green waste.
Consultation was open until 4pm on 30 November. To have your say on the waste services proposal visit the consultation page of the council’s website and fill in a submission form: Community Consultation – Waste Services – Marlborough District Council.
Submissions would be fed back to the full council through the 2023-24 Annual Plan process. If the bins were adopted, the contract would start on 1 July, 2024.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz