Palmy's waste problem

How much waste does Palmy create? Read the results of our latest audit here.

We conduct recycling audits throughout the year, but once every few years we undertake a citywide rubbish and recycling audit. The last time we did this was in 2017. Our next Waste Management and Minimisation Plan will be consulted on late 2022/early 2023. It will use waste data from 2021-22.

In 2017, Palmerston North sent just over 45,000 tonnes of waste to landfill. Almost half (48%) was potentially divertible. It could have been reused, recovered, recycled or composted.

This 45,000 tonnes comes from household kerbside waste collections, the construction and demolition sector, industrial or commercial activities, and residents taking bulk loads to the transfer stations. More than 15,000 tonnes of the waste going to landfill was collected from households at the kerbside.

Many households use wheelie-bin services provided by private companies, with approximately 30% of the city using the Council's rubbish bag collection. The remaining 30,000 tonnes of the waste going to landfill includes waste from construction and demolition, industrial and commercial sources and waste taken to the transfer stations by city residents.

In 2028 our population is expected to reach just over 98,000 people. If we make no changes to how we manage waste, by then we will be sending 52,500 tonnes of waste to landfill annually. That's an increase of 7,000 tonnes.

Are Palmy businesses and residents good at minimising waste?

To determine how well we're doing in terms of waste minimisation, it's useful to compare ourselves with other parts of New Zealand.

  • The total amount of waste per person that we send to landfill the district is mid-range: about 533kg per year.
  • When we look at how much waste from households we send to landfill, we generate about 180kg per person, per year which is also mid-range compared to other districts.
  • When it comes to household recycling we recycle about 67kg per person at the kerbside, which is on the low side – and households with large privately collected wheelie-bins recycle less than households using Council's rubbish bag collection service.

Surveys of the rubbish picked up at the kerbside, and the rubbish that is sent to landfill, show there's a large percentage that doesn't need to go to landfill and could instead be recycled, composted, or recovered in some other way, such as reuse. If these went to other uses, we'd save nearly 20,000 tonnes of material from going into the landfill.

A key issue is the different way households that use the Council rubbish collection manage their waste, compared with households that use wheelie-bins. The bigger the bin, the more food and green waste they throw out.

In Palmy, the average household using a bag for rubbish throws away 3.5kg of food a week, compared to 3.76kg for a household with a small wheelie bin, and 5.03kg in a large wheelie bin.   

The average household using a bag for rubbish puts out 3.5kg of food waste per week, compared to a household with a small wheelie bin with 3.76kg, and a large wheelie bin 5.03kg.

Infographic shows the comparison between how much green waste is thrown out in a typical rubbish bag (0.13kg), small bin (3.41kg) and large bin (7.42kg).

The most dramatic difference is in green waste – a household using the council collection puts out 0.13kg per week, compared to a small wheeled bin which on average has 3.41kg, and a large wheeled bin with 7.42kg.