14 October 2008

Rubbish collection, New Zealand style

One of the first things we learned about living in New Zealand is their rubbish collection. Rubbish is more commonly known in our country as garbage. So if you're having a conversation and you hear them declare that what you're saying is a load of rubbish, it's not a compliment. Bwahuhuhu!

For an orderly rubbish collection, you need two things: a council bag and a kiwi bin. Council bags are huge, yellow plastic bags where you place your non-recyclables in. It costs around $9.00 for 5 pieces, and can be bought at grocery stores (ask for it at the counter). You are allowed to load up to 15kg per bag. More guidelines are printed on the bag itself.

Next is the kiwi bin. If you're renting a flat, your landlord should give you one. But if it's not available, you can buy this for $10 at the Library. It's a green, plastic container into which you place your recyclables such as paper and bottles (plastic and glass).

There is a schedule for rubbish collection; you need to ask about this from your landlord, neighbor, or from information centers such as the library. In our case, it's on Mondays at around 8:30AM. We bring out our rubbish after 5:30PM on Sunday. The collection team for general rubbish collection is different from the recyclables team.
For houses that generate a lot of rubbish, you need a bigger bin. This type is collected on Tuesdays in our area.

I believe that this method of rubbish segregation works because you have a visual of where to put your recyclables and non-recyclables. And since collection is once a week, people are motivated to dispose properly of their refuse or else they'd have a smelly kitchen or backyard.

Supporting the rubbish collection scheme are campaigns to make your own compost out of biodegradable stuff from the kitchen. Some gardening stores even offer tutorials and you can buy your supplies from them to start and sustain a worm farm of a compost heap.

The council bag and kiwi bin concept may not work in our country, but we can still follow a similar theme in garbage segregation and actively support backyard composting.

Oct 16 update: I learned that you do not need to buy a kiwi bin for your recyclables. A clear plastic bag will do, and they will collect it. I haven't seen a lot of transparent plastic bags, though. I wonder if the more popular white ones will do.

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