Fri, May 3, 2024 9:30 AM

Wheelie bins aim to fix Marlborough’s recycling issues


Maia Hart

Those tasked with Marlborough’s wheelie bin roll-out say they are confident that recycling is no longer going to end up going to landfill.

The Marlborough District Council’s waste contractor had, at times, struggled to staff a full team, which meant on collection day rubbish and recycling had been dumped into the same truck.

But the roll-out of wheelie bins, and a new contractor, means the problem should now be resolved.

Council’s solid waste manager Mark Lucas said the current system, using black rubbish bags and recycling crates, was “not currently working”.

“Hence why we're going away from the rubbish bags into the wheelie bins, and instead of being collected the same day each week, they're now being collected on alternative weeks,” Mark said.

The council was asked how much recycling had gone to landfill since June 2023, when the former solid waste manager estimated it had been about 10 per cent, or about 120 to 150 tonnes. A spokesperson for the council said there was no way to know the exact number.

“We're not happy, like the community, in relation to the current situation,” Mark said.

“But there's things out of our control. Things like staff just not turning up for work.

“The system wasn't working, so we're now changing the system, and we're confident that the new system will prevent this from happening in the future.”

Wheelie bin collection will start on July 1. Photo: Maia Hart/LDR

As part of the new service, Marlborough households would get two bins - one for rubbish and one for recycling. Ratepayers were given the option to pick their bin size.

Households would also get a separate 55-litre crate for glass, which would be emptied fortnightly.

“We're confident that with them having those three sizes they will be able to meet their requirements, Mark says.

“The bin lid has to be shut. That's solely for the fact that it's being tipped.”

Kerbside collection would also be extended and include Blenheim, Picton, Renwick, Seddon, Rarangi, Grovetown, Spring Creek, Tuamarina, Havelock and Rai Valley.

“It's been challenging. When I came in there was a lot to organise.

“But I'm really happy with the new contractor. They've really nailed in in getting everything out.”

WM New Zealand Marlborough branch manager Paul Withers, left, with Nike Alvarez who is helping with the wheelie bin roll-out in Marlborough.Photo: Maia Hart/LDR

A spokesperson for the new contractor, WM New Zealand (previously Waste Management New Zealand), said they were proud to be selected to provide the new service to the people of Marlborough.

“The new service will let residents recycle more, with a 33 per cent increase in the amount collected at kerbside (based on a standard 140 litre wheelie bin).

“This is a great environmental outcome for Marlborough.”

The contractor had 12 people helping with the roll-out. Four were full-time employees, and some were fixed term and temporary.

When the service started, there would be about 30 new jobs created. This included 10 truck drivers as well as transfer station operators.

Delivering of the bins started in the first week of March and would continue through to July 1, though the aim was to have the bulk of the deliveries completed by the end of May.

“We’ve already started recruiting to make sure we have everyone we need from day one of the contract and have had lots of interest from around the country.

“We’re also talking to staff currently employed at the council’s transfer stations and recovery centre facilities.”

The new service means more households in Marlborough will have kerbside waste collection. Photo: Supplied/Maia Hart

The spokesperson said they were aware of the staff shortages that had occurred in the past in the region.

“We’ve got contingency plans ready to deal with labour shortfalls on any given day.

“Marlborough will be supported by our other South Island branches when required.”

Wheelie bin collection would start on July 1.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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