28 Sep 2023

Rollout of food waste bins to Auckland households on track to be completed next month

From Checkpoint, 5:55 pm on 28 September 2023

Small green bins have been popping up around the streets of Auckland as the council's scheme to recycle leftover food scraps kicks into action. 

Along with the bin for the kerbside, another smaller container was given out to be kept in the house.

Residents in west, north and central Auckland have been given their bins, with the full rollout to be completed by the end of October. 

It was Glen Marshall's job to pick the bins up. He said the amount of people using the service varied from place to place. 

"Some streets you'll get like 80 percent of the bins out, other streets you'll only get 20 percent. But I'm finding it's slowly creeping up and that's consistent with what I'm hearing from the council."

Once the food scraps were collected, they were used to make bio-gas and fertilser for greenhouses. 

Marshall said people were still figuring out what could go in the bins and what could not.

"When I first started, I had a car battery. So I went to lift it, and of course it didn't move, I opened it and thought 'oh you're kidding me'. So I just left it there for a couple of months, and then someone finally wised up, took the battery out and started using it properly."

Some Aucklanders Checkpoint spoke to welcomed the new scheme, and said it was a good way to use waste that would otherwise go to landfill. 

"I was a reluctant starter, but I have got into the swing of it now, and I religiously put my bin out every week," said Ian. 

"I think it's an awesome incentive... big fan," Morgan said.  

Winsome said the new scheme meant her family's rubbish habits had changed.

"What we're finding now is we hardly have any normal waste."

Others were less than impressed with the idea. 

"I don't like the idea of having dirty stuff hanging around the house for the week," said one Aucklander. 

Another, Paul, was annoyed at not being able to opt out of the scheme.

"In the past the council have the system, user pays, and if you wanted a service you paid for it. Now they're imposing it on us and we don't want it." 

Steve was worried it might attract pests. 

"I've heard that there's rats and stuff coming around if you put the bins out," he said.

Auckland Council waste solutions manager Parul Sood had tips and tricks to help get around some of these issues. 

"If you've got food scraps, maybe keep them frozen in your fridge." 

For people who already composted, there were still some things they might want to put in the little green bin, such as meat scraps, Sood said. 

For those who used a garbage disposal, she said kerbside collection was a more sustainable option. 

Whether or not a household used the new bin, there was a $77.20 annual charge for it through rates, which Parul reckoned was good value for money.  

"Keeping in mind, it's an every-week service ... I think that's pretty cheap."

Marshall believed that as time went on, more people would get onboard with the scheme. 

"I think getting into the children, they tend to be the drivers. I've got friends that have got grandkids and they're going 'grandpa you can't put that in there' and it's like 'oh I've just been told by a 5-year-old'.

"That, I think, is the future, because it's what we're doing now they're going to benefit from. Guys like me won't be around in 20 or 30 years."