Rubbish bag costs have jumped leading an increase in shoplifting. Photo: Kate Russell

Increased dump fees spark rubbish bag price hike


A local supermarket has resorted to taking roadside rubbish bags off the shelves and putting them behind the counter after they became one of their most shoplifted items.

The move comes after the bags went up in price on 1 July. In another local store, the cost of a single rubbish bag has increased 30 per cent in the last seven years.

Countdown Nelson store manager Lauren Hobson says they had to move the bags due the high number of thefts.

“We have had no issues since we have taken them off the shelves.”

Rubbish collection in Nelson is operated on a ‘user pays’ system provided by the Nelson City Council-owned contractor, Nelmac.

The 65 litre bags, known as ‘Betta-Bags’, are available at supermarkets, Nelson City Council and at Nelmac’s office. They are sold as singles or as a four-pack.

Nelmac’s marketing coordinator Nic Stuart says one of the reasons for the bag price hike is due to the increase in Nelson City Council’s dumping fees.

In fact, they have been hit with a 34 per cent increase in dumping costs since July.

“Due to operational costs increasing we need to account for cost of sales. This also includes, but is not limited to, the cost of providing the right staff, increase in fleet and plant and fuel prices continuously increasing.”

Nelson City Council communications manager Paul Shattock confirms there was a “minimal increase” in July to both the York Valley Landfill and Pascoe St Transfer Station prices.
“For instance, the charge per tonne of general waste at York Valley increased by $4,” he says.

“Nelmac and all other refuse collectors take their kerbside collections directly to the landfill at York Valley … everyone who uses the landfill is subject to the same price increase.”

Paul says the cost increased due to changes to the kerbside recycling collection that council implemented in late 2016 where wheelie bins were introduced for recycling co-mingled material and blue crates were used for glass collection only.

“Collection routes and new vehicles were required by the contractor which incurred an extra contract cost. Landfill fees are used to fund the cost of providing waste initiatives such as recycling, and this resulted in an increase in landfill fees.”

He says Nelson residents have embraced the change to wheelie bins, with recycling volumes increasing by 40 percent since their introduction.

Nelmac currently sells Betta-Bags as singles for $2.59 or $9.40 for a four pack, which Nic says is “still aligned competitively in terms of product pricing”.

“This is our recommended retail price however it’s at the discretion of the reseller as to what they sell them off the shelf for.”

The cost of a single bag hovers between $2.20 and $3.50 around Nelson, with the council being the cheapest and dairies being the most expensive.

Four-packs are the most cost-effective way to buy the bags, varying in price between $8.50 and $10.14 around town.

Meanwhile, Paul says Nelson and Tasman councils are in the process of adopting the Nelson Tasman Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, with public consultation closing in September.

“Approximately 62,000 tonnes of waste is taken to local landfill each year and research estimates more than half of that could be dealt with in a better way by being reused, recycled or composted – or avoided altogether.

“The plan looks at ways to achieve that change,” says Paul.