Free rubbish bag trial for Community Services Card holders

Published on 06 April 2023

Picture shows three people standing on roadside with a red rubbish bag

To give a helping hand to lower-income households, Palmerston North City Council is launching a new 12-week trial for community services cardholders to receive four free rubbish bags.

The trial has been a long-term push from elected members, following the significant increase in recycling contamination during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Elected members wished to dive deeper into why people were continuing to throw their rubbish in their recycling bins and whether it’s a matter of cost or a lack of knowledge about what goes in which bin/bag. At a council meeting last March, it was agreed that free rubbish bags be provided to lower-income households on a trial basis, to gather feedback about whether the cost of getting rid of rubbish is a contributor to people putting rubbish in their recycling bins.

Mayor Grant Smith says this is an exciting initiative for the city.

“We’re really looking forward to rolling out this trial and believe it will not only benefit lower-income households, but it will also help us understand how we can better manage our rubbish and recycling services in the future. This is especially important as Council will soon begin working on its next Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (WMMP) over the coming year.”

Between Tuesday 11 April – Friday 28 April, each household with a valid Community Services Card will be able to collect four free rubbish bags from our Customer Service Centre or from one of our community libraries in Highbury, Roslyn, Awapuni and Ashhurst. This is limited to four bags per household and once collected, the bags can be used immediately.

It’s been difficult for council to identify who is of lower-income in the city, so officers proposed using Community Services Cards for the trial period. People with gold cards will not be eligible unless they have a Community Services Card.

Chair of Council’s Community Committee, Councillor Lorna Johnson, encourages all eligible households to take up this offer and participate in the trial.

“We know that in this current climate people are struggling, and this is felt even more by our lower-income households. If you have a Community Services Card, I encourage you to take part in this trial and head along to one of the pick-up points to collect the free rubbish bags.

While Community Services Card holders collect their bags, a couple of brief questions will be asked of them in order to get an understanding of their current rubbish and recycling habits. This survey data will help council understand the effectiveness of the trial and will also help inform our upcoming WMMP review.

Audits will be conducted before and during the 12-week trial period to establish any impact in reducing contamination in recycling bins on a city-wide scale. Specific household waste from those in the trial will not be measured.

Elected members are keen to hear peoples’ thoughts on this trial and if they have any suggestions for improving kerbside collections. Feedback will be collected on the council website.

Chair of Council’s Sustainability Committee, Councillor Brent Barrett, reminds people to make the right choice when it comes to rubbish and recycling.

“Council offers an excellent household recycling collection and its success relies on each of us ensuring all the right things and none of the wrong things are in the orange lid wheelie bin.”

For a reminder on what items go in which bin, people can use the handy “What goes where” guide on Council's website.

For more information about the trial, visit