Why was organic waste identified for diversion?

    There are several reasons to consider diversion of organic waste from landfill, including waste minimisation, climate change mitigation and compliance with upcoming central government regulations. Audits of Rotorua’s red bins show that non-recyclable waste makes up about 30% of household waste in Rotorua; recyclables (e.g., glass, plastics) that could go in the recycling (yellow) bins make up around 10%; and organic waste (including food waste, garden waste, paper) is over 60%.  Thus, the diversion of organic waste presents a good opportunity to reduce Rotorua’s waste going to landfill.

    Why support kerbside organics collection and not home composting?

    Home composting has many advantages and Council’s Waste Management & Minimisation Plan supports home composting initiatives. However, home composting requires space, time, resources, and motivation. In general, only a small number of households are involved in home composting or worm farming. Home composting only usually recycles a limited number of food items (those unlikely to create odour or pest issues). In contrast, kerbside collection followed by processing at a commercial facility would ensure higher levels of household participation and provide an opportunity to divert almost all household organic waste. Diversion via kerbside collection would also make it easier to monitor to measure and report on performance.

    It is also important to note that Council will continue to support home composting irrespective of the decision in favour of or against the roll-out of organics collection services.

    I compost at home. Why should I support kerbside organics diversion?

    Home composting is an awesome way to minimise organic waste. However, most people who actively compost at home cannot compost all their food waste. Some of the things that are difficult to compost are meat, bones, shellfish, cooked food scraps, etc. People with gardens may also struggle to compost all their garden waste at home. Kerbside organics collection offers home composters an opportunity to improve their rate of diversion, and further reduce their waste going to landfill.

    Why is Council considering five different collection options?

    Organic waste is mostly made up of food organics (FO) and garden organics (GO). While both FO and GO are readily biodegradable, they have very different properties. For example, garden waste is unlikely to create the same bad odour and pest issues and would not need to be collected as frequently as food waste. The five options outlined in the consultation document are:

    • no organic waste collection service
    • only food organics collection
    • only garden organics collection
    • collection of food organics and garden organics, with separate pick-up
    • collection of food organics and garden organics, with pick-up combined.  

    We have provided information on all these options to provide the Rotorua community with the information to make an informed decision.


    Tauranga and Hamilton only divert food organics. Why is Council considering other options?

    Waste composition in Rotorua is significantly different from that in Hamilton or Tauranga. Prior to the roll-out of food waste collection, household waste in Tauranga and Hamilton was made up of 50% food waste. In contrast, organic waste in Rotorua is made up of similar amounts of food and garden organics. Therefore, our approach to organics diversion would likely differ from Tauranga, Hamilton, or other districts.

    If organic diversion can reduce landfill disposal costs, why is there a cost to support organics diversion?

    The diversion of organic waste can reduce the costs associated with landfill disposal. However, it would also add a new collection cost, i.e., kerbside organics collection. The savings from landfill disposal would most likely offset the cost of organics collection, but it would not make the organics diversion service cost neutral. The increase in the targeted rate is expected to cover the additional cost of collection.

    Why is Council considering fortnightly rubbish collection for some options?

    Two out of the four options considered for organics diversion have potential to divert >50% of waste. In these cases, the rubbish volume for an average household is expected to be halved, and therefore, it would take up to two weeks to fill the current 140L (red) rubbish bin. The proposed change to the rubbish collection frequency uses this opportunity to reduce rubbish collection costs, as well as minimise the risk of creating additional capacity for rubbish generation. Fortnightly rubbish collection would also encourage the use of the organics bin.

    Why is the cost of doing nothing (BAU) so high?

    In 2020, central government implemented some important changes to the landfill levy and Emissions Trading Scheme, which are taxes applicable to landfills. The landfill levy is set to increase by $50 per tonne of waste between 2020 and 2024, whereas carbon trading costs has already increased by about $50 per tonne of CO2-e since 2020. Due to these regulatory changes, landfilling costs are increasing every year. The BAU option reflects the impact of these increased landfill taxes on waste disposal costs and the targeted rate for waste services.

    Has Council considered a local processing facility (e.g., composting)?

    Council has considered setting up a local composting facility in partnership. However, there are already several organics processing facilities in our region - a new waste-to-energy plant has recently been built in Reporoa; EnviroNZ has announced plans to build a composting facility in Tauranga; and MyNoke operates a large vermicomposting facility. It is likely that waste would be transported to an existing processing facility in the region.  

    What processing technologies are being considered for organic waste and why

    At this stage, Council is considering traditional composting, along with anaerobic digestion and vermicomposting. All of these are well-established proven technologies for processing organic waste.

    Would Council offer organics diversion services to businesses?

    Businesses in urban areas, which pay a targeted rate, would receive organics diversion services. Large businesses, which produce large volumes of food waste, would be able to request additional or larger bins from the service provider for a fee.

    Would organics diversion services be offered to the rural areas?

    Council would follow a staged approach in rolling out organics diversion services. In the first stage, only urban areas would be covered. Mamaku, due to its relatively high density and proximity to urban areas, would likely be considered during the first stage. Rural communities in other areas would be consulted during the second stage.

    Would rural transfer stations accept organic waste?

    Council would consider including drop-off facilities for source segregated food waste as part of the organics service. The details of how this would be provided cannot be confirmed at this stage.

    I use red bags for rubbish disposal. Would I get an organics diversion service?

    Areas with red bags pick-up or drop-off services (at transfer stations) would not be considered in the first stage of the roll-out.

    I live in a multi-unit dwelling/apartment. How would I use the organic diversion service?

    At present, many multi-unit dwellings, fenced communities or apartments have different kerbside collection arrangements. These arrangements are discussed with the residents concerned before they are finalised. For organics diversion, Council would continue to have a flexible approach and work with the residents and communities concerned.

    Would the organic waste bin smell bad?

    Food waste degrades easily and may produce a smell. Council would provide residents with instructions on the best practices to mitigate odour issues. In addition, food waste would be collected weekly to reduce any nuisance. As councils around the country start offering food waste diversion services, further best practice guidelines are emerging.

    Would a new bin for kerbside organics collection result in bin crowding?

    At present, residents put out up to three bins/crates on their recycling day. Organics diversion might result in some changes in collection days. The services would be planned in a way that the number of bins/crates on the kerbside on any day would not exceed three. This would ensure that no additional space is needed for kerbside collection

    If organic waste diversion reduced my rubbish significantly, would I be able to opt for a smaller rubbish bin?

    Council would consider options to reward residents who actively minimise waste. Reducing bin size would likely be one of the options.